Handbook of Trauma. 2nd ed.

By Andrew Nicol and Elmin Steyn. Pp. xii + 514. Illustrated. R389.95. Oxford University Press Southern Africa. 2010. ISBN 9780-0-19-598747-8.

This pocket handbook is an essential guide for general practitioners, medical officers, registrars, emergency care practitioners, and all trauma unit staff in South African hospitals. Following the well-established format of pocket handbooks that can be carried around and referred to at the moment when they are needed, this handbook sets out all the major issues in trauma management in an accessible and comprehensive way. Without going into too much detail, each chapter succinctly covers the important key messages, with an emphasis on thorough assessment, and the practical steps of management. In addition to resuscitation and early management, the chapters on regional injuries include injuries to the head, spine, face, ear and nose, eyes, neck, chest, abdomen, and hands. Other very useful chapters include high-risk patients, as well as specific injuries such as sexual assault, burns, bites and stings, and gunshot wounds. The prevention of common injuries, which is not usually included in the scope of practice of trauma personnel, might be a helpful additional section in terms of advice to patients, as well as the medical contributions to health promotion.

In this age of internet access on cellphones, and the increasing proportion of young professionals who look up online references on the spot, it would be useful to include key websites in addition to the references at the end of each chapter. This would enable those who need more detailed information on a specific dilemma to find it more quickly in the emergency situation, where the handbook has had to keep to the basics for the sake of space and breadth of coverage.

South Africa has a high burden of trauma, and the second edition of this handbook is a much-needed contribution to the collective effort that is directed towards dealing with it.

Steve Reid

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