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Reviews

If you would like to suggest an app, website or book for review, or write a review, please email sara.williams@mps.org.uk

Medscape app

  • Reviewed by Dr Emily Lees, Academic Clinical Fellowship Year 1 in Paediatrics at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool, UK

As a newcomer to the world of smartphones, I was astonished by the number of medical apps available and the vast array of functions they serve. From Shiftworker (creates attractive calendars documenting your shift patterns), to PaedsED (provides rapid drug-dose calculations and a pain scale containing cute animal pictures) – there is something to suit every specialty and taste.

Of all the apps I discovered, Medscape stands out as being an incredibly versatile and useful tool, containing abundant functions, which I'll highlight below.

There is also a mind-bending back catalogue of evidence available for download, all the more incredible for the fact that it is free. All that is required of you is an email address with which to set up an account.

Medscape ranks in Apple’s top app downloads, and it is easy to determine why. The app can be downloaded on to many devices, eg, iPhones, iPods, Blackberrys, Androids and Kindlefires, and has an easily navigable format, with large enough icons that you won’t forever be hitting the wrong button.

Medscape is developed by WebMD, the group responsible for various online medical resources, including eMedicine and Rxlist. The Medscape app is constantly developing with frequent evidence updates and an ever-expanding number of conditions covered (currently 4,000+). The content is written and peer-reviewed by 7,000 physicians representing numerous institutions, so somewhat more reliable than the good doctors Google and Wiki. Many articles also come with illustrations and videos, which are particularly handy for the anatomy segments and the section giving step-by-step instructions for 600-plus clinical procedures – an improvement on the ‘see one, do one’ ethos.

Of all the apps I discovered, Medscape stands out as being an incredibly versatile and useful tool

Medscape’s drug reference contains detailed prescribing information for more than 8,000 drugs (prescription, OTC and supplements). The only downfall is that some of the drugs are not listed in their English format (eg, Acetaminophen is listed for Paracetamol). There is also a drug interaction checker that allows the user to cross-check multiple drugs/supplements against each other to ensure they’re prescribing safely. Not only that, Medscape incorporates numerous medical calculator tools, relevant to each specialty.

I’ve highlighted some of my favourite aspects of the app, but there’s much more to take advantage of including daily news updates, 100-plus clinical protocols, monthly hot topics with latest practice updates, and the ability to carry out Medline searches within the app.

I’d thoroughly recommend adding Medscape to your device, and whilst you may not be fast enough to impress your senior by looking up the answers to ward round questions, you can enter each on-call, whatever your specialty, armed with the wisdom of 100 textbooks in your back pocket.

The Rise & Fall of Modern Medicine (2nd edition)

  • By James Le Fanu (Abacus Books, 2011)
  • Reviewed by Dr Matthew Daunt, specialist registrar in anaesthesia at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

This new version has been updated to include the changes in the decade since its first release. It is essentially divided into two parts, a superb historical narrative of medicine’s greatest achievements in the post-war years, followed by a somewhat cynical review of the current medical world.

The first part – the “Twelve definitive moments of modern medicine” – is a must-read for all doctors and medical students. Covering the 45 years from the beginning of World War II, Le Fanu articulately describes the most significant developments of modern medicine, recounting details that are both entertaining and enlightening. The well-researched and heavily-referenced chapters depict events such as the discovery of penicillin, the birth of intensive care, open heart surgery and the first test-tube baby. This section of the book alone is enough for me to recommend it.

The uplifting book goes on to describe the development of newly-qualified doctors, from the 1930s when they had “a dozen or so proven remedies” at their disposal, to the end of their career when they have “over 2,000”. Le Fanu revels in telling the reader that these discoveries were fortuitous, and often accidental. The change in the way research occurs is one of his reasons for the ‘fall’ in modern medicine.

The first part – the “Twelve definitive moments of modern medicine” – is a must-read for all doctors and medical students

The second half of the book tackles the reasons behind the relative dearth of significant breakthroughs. The subsequent decline in new discoveries in the last 30 years are attributed mostly to the underwhelming impact of the human genome project, and the pharmaceutical companies whose interest in profit-making prohibits the effects of individual research.

The latter half of the book is quite depressing, but ends with a sense of optimism overall as to what the future may hold.

This fascinating book gives an expert account of how modern medicine affects us all as doctors and patients, whilst also calling for change in order to prevent stagnation in the field of research.

Download a PDF of this edition
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