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Oxford Handbook of Critical Care Nursing

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Title: Oxford Handbook of Critical Care Nursing

Author:  Sheila Adam and Sue Osborne

Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2009 (reprinted 2010)

Reviewer: Rebecca Bailey-McHale, community health nurse, Isle of Man

What was it like?

The Oxford handbook of critical care nursing is a really useful little bit of equipment. It is a neatly packaged A-Z of all things in critical care. The chapters are easy to navigate and the contents list is systematic and precise enabling you to dip in and out of the relevant sections without becoming disorientated or lost in the text. The first three chapters introduce the reader to what is critical care, how to recognise a patient who is becoming critically unwell and what to expect to see in the critical care environment. The subsequent chapters guide you through a methodical tour of each of the human physiological systems and the specific critical care concerns associated with them. The treatments and monitoring required for each problem and handy reminders of how to provide practical care in what can be an exceedingly challenging environment are also discussed.  Chapter four is particularly welcome as it highlights the importance of fundamental basic care skills such as communication, oral hygiene and how to prioritise care. This aspect of critical care can be overlooked in other critical care literature. 


What were the highlights? 

The book succinctly gives clear definitions of all aspects of critical care and takes it back to basics without dumbing down the complexities of care. It covers everything from assessment to evaluating, physiology to drug therapies. This edition starts with an abbreviation and symbols list, which will serve as a handy reminder for anybody not routinely working in critical care but who comes into contact with critical patients and their records.  

Strengths & weaknesses?

It really is difficult to find a weakness in this book. It is dead easy to understand, covers a wide range of topics, and is informative, instructive and interesting to read.  It is an effective memory jogger for all aspects of critical care. The book skilfully cross references other chapters to sign post the reader to pertinent topics. There are a number of useful tables and diagrams to further clarify the topic under discussion.

Who should read it?

This book would be useful for anybody working within an acute inpatient setting as the topics covered are also relevant out of the critical care setting. Those working currently in critical care would find this book a useful aide memoire. The book would be a must for any adult field student nurse and would be useful not only in critical care settings but across a range of practice placements.

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