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Medical textbook by NUH doctors an international bestseller

SINGAPORE — A textbook on emergency medicine, written in Singapore, has not only proved to be an unexpected international bestseller but also helped to reduce maternal deaths, due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth, in hospitals in an Indonesian province.

Medical textbook by NUH doctors an international bestseller

Associate Professor Shirley Ooi and Associate Professor Peter Manning holding the first and second editions of Guide to the Essentials In Emergency Medicine at the Emergency Medicine Department of the National University Hospital. Photo: NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine

SINGAPORE — A textbook on emergency medicine, written in Singapore, has not only proved to be an unexpected international bestseller but also helped to reduce maternal deaths, due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth, in hospitals in an Indonesian province.

The textbook, Guide to the Essentials in Emergency Medicine, was put together by Dr Shirley Ooi and Dr Peter Manning, two senior doctors at the National University Hospital (NUH) Emergency Medicine Department (EMD). The duo are also associate professors at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.

The first edition, released in 2004, has sold more than 15,000 copies, while nearly 10,000 copies of the second, current edition released in 2014, have been snapped up. It has also found its way overseas, such as Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

The textbook is not just being used in hospitals, but also by general practitioners in clinics and medical students in many countries. Doctors in Turkey and Indonesia have expressed interest in having it translated into their local languages.

Its striking success has come as a pleasant surprise for Dr Ooi and Dr Manning, since their initial intention in putting together the guide was merely to help out their colleagues.

In the late 1990s, Dr Ooi noticed the lack of uniformity in care when it came to emergency medicine, with doctors adopting varying practices and approaches. She and Dr Manning felt that a universal standard of care that used the best practices in EM was needed in treating patients.

Dr Ooi started by listing the common conditions the were often seen at the emergency medicine department, and gathered opinions among her colleagues’ opinions on how best to treat such conditions.

After several rounds of peer review, multiple copies of the guidelines in treating these conditions, such as headaches, were filed and placed throughout the EMD.

However, as these files proved to be a lot of help to EMD personnel, they started going missing as they became popular — and Dr Ooi decided to solve the problem of the missing files by coming up with the textbook.

Working with a team of NUH emergency physicians and a few guest authors, the Guide to the Essentials in Emergency Medicine, which took four years to complete, includes applying practices and approaches that have been adopted by various medical disciplines to trauma conditions, and also offers some tips for GPs.

For example, there is a chapter on headaches, which explains that a headache may not just be due to a simple migraine, but also be the result of internal bleeding in the brain. Another chapter on violent and psychotic patients offers readers tips on how to handle them.

Unlike most lengthy medical textbooks, the NUH guide features information in easy-to-digest form.

While the first edition is a pocket-size book,the second edition is much bigger and includes updated practices, 20 additional chapters, along with illustrations, CT scans, and ultrasound images.

“It is really very gratifying that (the textbook) is well accepted,” said Dr Ooi.

 

 

CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this story, we said the textbook had been translated into Bahasa Indonesia and Turkish. That is incorrect. There is interest to have the book translated. We are sorry for the error. 

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