There was a time, not so very long ago, when medical textbooks held a place of supremacy on my office bookshelf. They weren't good for cutting edge information - say the newest medications and their side effects or the latest in HIV treatment, but they were handy resources for the occasional rare case that came my way. I would turn to them to find out what tests to order for that patient with wildly fluctuating blood pressures, or the person who was flushing red from head to toe. I'd turn to them to find out how to treat certain fractures, or to illustrate a point to a patient.
But, recently, when I struck out on my own and moved my office, I was forced to do without my medical textbooks for a while, at least until I could afford a bookcase for them. I can afford a bookcase now, but I haven't been motivated to buy one. Mostly because I haven't missed my textbooks. They've been replaced by Google. There hasn't been a topic I couldn't find an answer to on Google so far, from the work-up of suspected carcinoid tumors to finger fracture treatment. I've used it to show a patient worried that he might have contracted an STD what sorts of rashes to look for. I've used it to find appropriate diagnosis codes for insurance billing.
And, of course, when it comes to responding to patient questions on the latest breakthroughs in medicine - from hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer to the SARS outbreak, the internet is essential. Which makes me wonder where a book like Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld's Breakthrough Health 2004 fits in today's world.
Dr. Rosenfeld is the health editor of Parade magazine, author of it's health column, and Sunday medical commentator for Fox News. (He's also, according to the cover of his book, "America's most trusted doctor!" a distinction probably more appropriately applied to doctors like this guy or this guy.) Dr. Rosenfeld has collected some of the breakthroughs and discoveries in medicine over the past year, from the hormone replacement controversy to the latest gadget for checking blood thinner effectiveness, and distilled them into general medical advice book. Have a question about something you read in the newspaper over the past year? You'll likely find Dr. Rosenfeld's take on it.