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Critical Care Nursing - Learning from Practice

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Title: Critical Care Nursing - Learning from Practice

Edited by: Suzanne Bench and Kate Brown

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011

Reviewer: Rebecca Bailey-McHale, staff nurse, Department of Health, Isle of Man


What was it like?

Critical Care Nursing Learning from Practice is first and foremost an informative and interactive read. If you work in a critical care setting, are about to or merely have an interest in this area, this book will set you on your way. It consists of 17 hot topics in critical care ranging from the patient with severe sepsis, the patient with acute lung injury, to the patient requiring end-of-life-care. Every section skilfully and descriptively deconstructs the presenting problem and offers a journey of discovery through each topic. The 15 authors cleverly lead the reader through clinical scenarios. Each chapter begins with a short introduction, giving a brief definition of the problem discussed. This leads to the introduction of the patient’s story where the issue is put into context and you are given a patient to follow.  Each storyline offers full clinical presentation, including vital signs observations, blood test results and a systematic ABCDE approach to patient assessment. The reader is then given a number of identified activities that relate to the scenario, for example chapter 12 ‘the patient with raised intracranial pressure’, in which the reader is asked to identify the cause of the patient’s rapid neurological deterioration and what the implications may be. The chapter then offers related pathophysiological explanations that are pertinent to each case, giving not only a foundation understanding of what occurs and why but also presenting some indication of how each concern/observation may be managed. The icing on the cake is that each section is well supported and referenced, offering the reader further avenues to explore should they seek further clarification on their subject. 


What were the highlights? 

The book has an easy–to-follow format, is informative and follows a person-centred approach to each topic. There is a big focus on evidence-based care even offering a recommended reading list and including a critical appraisal of a relevant research paper in each chapter. 

Strengths and weaknesses?

There is a concise appendice, giving not only the frameworkused to critically appraise the research paper for each chapter, but also providing a brief synopsis of each paper. The index list is well constructed. The minor weakness of note is that in the clinical scenarios it is assumed that the reader is aware of the normative values of each test/observation. It would perhaps have been beneficial to include a brief guide to the normative values to refresh or update the readers’ knowledge in the appendice. 

Who should read it?

Anyone who currently works, or will be working, in critical care and any healthcare professional wishing to gain further knowledge in this area. Although the book may be a little too advanced for first year pre-registration student nurses, it may be of benefit to those in their second and third year. 

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