Books Bring Doctors and Nurses Into Your Home

THE COMPLETE FAMILY HEALTH BOOK

Edited by Drs. Donna Shelley, Sharyn Lynhart, Roselyn E. Epps, Roselyn Payne Epps and the American Medical Women's Assn .

St. Martin's Press

$40, 755 pages

We all know how often Mom's advice turns out to be right. This book invites us to trust a group of doctor-moms who not only dispense health care at the office, but take that professional knowledge home to their families. The result is a sound and comprehensive health guide that covers all the bases.

The volume begins with information on making wise health-care decisions and moves on to staying healthy. It then goes stage-by-stage through the life cycle, from pregnancy and early childhood right through to the elder years. Subsequent chapters tackle the various organs and systems. The last sections of the book include guides to symptoms, common skin problems, family first aid and emergency care. The editors have included lists of prescription and over-the-counter medications that could come in quite handy.

The book has many such touches that help make medicine accessible to the layperson. The disorders are listed in colored type, making them stand out nicely, and are logically followed by symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment. The simplified graphics provide just enough information, helping readers understand, for example, how an angioplasty snakes a catheter and inflated balloon into a coronary artery.

Also, the Guide to Symptoms is particularly easy to negotiate. For a condition such as nausea, hoarseness or incontinence, the "symptom sorter" teases out particular symptoms you might encounter, points you to "what it could be" and then on to "what to do." Nice. Simple. Sensible.

Altogether, this would be a nice addition to the family bookshelf.

*

ASK A NURSE: From Home Remedies to Hospital Care

By the American Assn. of Colleges of Nursing; Geraldine Bednash, Executive Director

Simon & Schuster Source

$38, 415 pages

Given that nurses do most hands-on patient care and are the professionals most often entrusted with patient education, they can certainly be authoritative sources on health matters--especially preventive care and self-care.

That's the idea behind this new health guide, which drew upon the expertise of 100 nurses and the 550 nursing schools that belong to the American Assn. of Colleges of Nursing. Another thing going for this book: It was a collaborative effort with the People's Medical Society, a nonprofit consumer health advocacy group that is a good, reliable source of practical advice.

This guide tries to be an all-purpose practical book and among its strengths are the tips on assembling a home first-aid kit and the valuable information on common household chemicals useful in a jam--such as ammonia to rouse someone who has fainted. It also offers simple, clear instructions for how to treat common injuries and sound advice about which over-the-counter preparations are good for everyday problems. Other bonuses are the mini-glossaries on life-support procedures as well as Latin terms used in prescriptions and other technical language.

Although this book succeeds in offering essentials in many major areas, such as men's health, women's health and surviving a hospital stay, I'm not sure it would be the first thing I'd pull off the shelf to answer complex health questions.

In terms of style, the heavy attribution of nearly every tip is awkward. Do we really need to know the name and hometown of the nurse who recommends hand-washing after touching someone with an eye infection? That's just common sense. Although it's nice to see nurses get credit, this bogs the book down.

One flaw I couldn't get past: The authors violated a fundamental fact-checking rule by assuming that anticipated FDA approval to return the Today contraceptive sponge to market occurred. Allendale Pharmaceuticals is still waiting for it.

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