Dr Emily Gibney reviews The Beginner's Guide to Intensive Care – A Handbook for Junior Doctors and Allied Professionals 


Starting a rotation in intensive care for the first time can be a terrifying prospect for any member of the MDT, particularly those with no previous exposure to the critical care environment. With endless equipment, numerous alarms and a big multi-disciplinary team (MDT), the ebb and flow of critical care can be alien, even to those well used to other areas of the hospital. 


The Beginner's Guide to Intensive Care is aimed at those new to the specialty regardless of their background. Think about it: the treatment of a critically ill patient on multi-organ support, with numerous wires and tubes is a daunting task for anyone and, on top of that there are the patient's loved ones to deal with. That’s what this book does best, it helps to demystify this complex area where the purpose of the equipment and management protocols are not always clear.


Nitin and Shondipon’s efforts clearly haven’t been wasted. The book opens like a typical day on any critical care unit, with a brief overview of what’s going to happen, and then the plan of a typical day. The chapters guide the reader through several broader critical care topics and, to make it even more helpful, the authors have broken down their work into sub-headings to really help us get to the core of the topic, including further reading. I found Capacity and Consent by Angela Day and Michael Elliot particularly helpful. Although written as introduction, this is a useful reminders for trainees rotating through ITU, or for those who come across similar situations in other medical contexts, such as the emergency department or wards.


The book’s broad overview also lends itself to be a reference text for any new member of the critical care MDT. This is because the chapters on the approach to the unwell patient, and management of common presentations are particularly good. These aren’t only useful in a critical care setting, but with any acutely unwell patient, making this a particularly good reference for any newly qualified doctor or medical student embarking on acute care rotations. 


With a diverse group of authors, they’re able to cover a wide range of topics. They reinforce the importance of the MDT and give an overview of the roles of the different professional members. Despite chapters being short and lacking the detail of more specific texts, it’s ideal for a newbie to get a feel for what we do and why. It also allows them to dip in and out of the book as required.


In summary, this isn’t a detailed and complete review of intensive care medicine, nor is it meant to be. But for those new to the specialty, whatever their background, it offers an easily accessible and broad overview for their first weeks or months in ITU.


Dr Emily Gibney

Trainee Doctor in the Mersey deanery


The Beginner's Guide to Intensive Care – A Handbook for Junior Doctors and Allied Professionals (2ndEdition) is edited by Nitin Arora and Shondipon K Laha. Published by CRC Press, 2018

The Ventilation Handbook
I you are interested in knowing a bit more about ventilation, why not have a look at our FREE practical guide,  downloadable on all platforms, that 'tells you everything you need to know about ventilatory support'!
Download it