Textbook of Adult Emergency Medicine* Peter Cameron, George Jelinek, Anne-Marie Kelly, Anthony F.T. Brown and Mark Little

By Peter Leggat In   Issue Volume 23 No. 2 .

*4th edn, 1104 pp, paperback with illustrations, ISBN: 978-0-7020-5335-1. Sydney, Churchill Livingstone (an imprint of Elsevier), RRP: $114.74, 2014.

The International Federation for Emergency Medicine definition of emergency medicine is provided in the Introduction of the Textbook of Adult Emergency Medicine, which defines the areas as:

“a field of practice based on the knowledge and skills required for the prevention, diagnosis and management of acute and urgent aspects of illness and injury affecting patients of all age groups with a full spectrum of episodic undifferentiated physical and behavioural disorders; it further encompasses an understanding of the development of pre-hospital and in-hospital emergency medical systems and the skills necessary for this development.” (p xxv).

This is an extremely broad brief for health professionals; although the availability today of a number of emergency medicine reference textbooks internationally has assisted greatly. There is no substitute for local relevance assisted by having a textbook, such as the Textbook of Adult Emergency Medicine, edited by Australian physicians. The textbook is now in its 4th edition and it has established itself as one of the leading reference textbooks in the field of adult emergency medicine in Australasia.

The 4th edition of the Textbook of Adult Emergency Medicine is presented as a formidable 3 kg, 1104 page, 27 x 21.6 x 4.8 cm softcover publication that would normally sit on the reference book shelf, although Kindle and eBook versions are available. The “no nonsense” front cover depicts a typical scene of a patient being wheeled to the emergency room using time-lapse photography to protect the identity of those in the photograph. The textbook contains a table of Contents, Preface, list of the 208 Contributors, List of the 6 members of the International Advisory Board, Introduction, 30 Sections, 91 Sub-Sections and a comprehensive Index. There is no bibliography, glossary, acknowledgments or list of abbreviations. It is now part of the “Student Consult” series and has searchable full text online, which is activated via a “PIN code” provided in the inside cover of the textbook (scratch off panel). The eTG complete1 would potentially be a useful adjunct to the textbook, as this provides a succinct listing of relevant therapeutic guidelines for busy health practitioners.

The Sections of the Textbook of Adult Emergency Medicine include “1. Resuscitation”; “2. Critical care”; “3. Trauma”; “4. Orthopaedic emergencies”; “5. Cardiovascular emergencies”; “6. Respiratory emergencies”; “7. Digestive emergencies”; “8. Neurology emergencies”; “9. Infectious disease emergencies”; “10. Genitourinary emergencies”; “11. Endocrine emergencies”; “12. Metabolic emergencies”; “13. Haematology emergencies”; “14. Rheumatology and musculoskeletal emergencies”; “15. Dermatology emergencies”; “16. Ocular emergencies”; “17. Dental emergencies”; “18. ENT emergencies”; “19. Obstetrics & gynaecology emergencies”; “20. Psychiatric emergencies”; “21. Challenging situations”; “22. Pain relief”; “23. Emergency imaging”; “24. Academic emergency medicine”; “25. Emergency medicine and the law”; “26. Emergency and medical systems”; “27. Administration”; “28. Environmental emergencies”; “29. Toxicology emergencies”; and “30. Toxinology emergencies”. The publisher states that the 4th edition provides updates on the latest imaging in emergency medicine; organ donation; massive transfusion protocols; medico legal issues; and patient safety and quality measures. There is also a new electronic version, as previously alluded to, which includes emergency procedure videos and self-assessment materials to check understanding and would be a useful aid for exam preparation, which was not specifically reviewed here.

Details of the five authors of the Textbook of Adult Emergency Medicine are given in the textbook and they are well known in Australasia. Peter Cameron is Professor of Emergency Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia. George Jelinek is based at the Department of Emergency Medicine, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia. Anne-Maree Kelly is Academic Head of Emergency Medicine, Joseph Epstein Centre for Emergency Medicine Research, Western Health, St Albans, Australia, and Professorial Fellow, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia. Anthony F. T. Brown is Professor of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia, and Senior Staff Specialist, Department of Emergency Medicine, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Brisbane, Australia. Mark Little is an Emergency Physician and Clinical Toxicologist, Cairns Base Hospital and Associate Professor, College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences and the Queensland Tropical Health Alliance, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland, Australia.

The consistent and concise style ensures that the 4th edition of the Textbook of Adult Emergency Medicine is easy to read. Given that this textbook is now in its 4th edition, it is now a mature reference textbook, which is a credit to the editors and the contributors.  In addition to the more traditional areas for emergency medicine consumption, it was pleasing to see that Section level coverage given to each of Environmental Emergencies (S. 28), Toxicology Emergencies (S. 29) and Toxinology Emergencies (S. 30).  Such Sections would also be useful reading for those involved with rural and remote medicine as well as expedition and wilderness medicine. The Sub-Section on Medical Issues in Disasters (S. 26.3) was also interesting reading. This provides some general principles in what is a very complex area. More coverage in this area would be welcome in dealing with specific issues, for example those ranging from talcum powder “biological” incidents through to pandemic management, which have a potential to impact severely on emergency departments.

The primary target audience of the 4th edition of the Textbook of Adult Emergency Medicine is stated to be “the trainee doctor in the emergency department”. It is also on the list of Fellowship Exam Recommended References.2 It is also mentioned that it would also be a useful resource for other professionals working in this setting, including nursed specialists and paramedics, as well as hospital doctors. Although not mentioned, the manual would also be a useful resource for general practice and other clinics that operate an on-call or after hour’s service, as well as medical and other students undertaking emergency department training rotations or training in rural and remote medicine or expedition and wilderness medicine, where emergency medicine is featured as a core area of the curriculum.3 Of course a textbook is not a substitute for appropriate experience, but it does provide a useful framework for professional development. The cost is not prohibitive and there is little competition nationally. The 4th edition of the Textbook of Adult Emergency Medicine has become established as part of the portfolio of standard textbooks in emergency medicine in the Australasian region.



  1. Therapeutic Guidelines. eTG complete. Melbourne: Therapeutic Guidelines Ltd, 2014. URL. http://www.tg.org.au/ (Accessed 8 December 2014)
  2. Australasian College of Emergency Medicine. Fellowship Exam Recommended References. URL. https://www.acem.org.au/getmedia/948d53f3-ab1b-4091-a5e5-93dd177adbba/Website-Fellowship-Exam-Recommended-References.pdf.aspx (Accessed 8 December 2014)
  3. Leggat PA, Shaw MTM. Professional Organisation Profile: A Faculty of Expedition and Wilderness Medicine for Australasia. Travel Med Inf Dis 2012; 10: 140-143.

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