Like it or not, modern anesthesiology is at a crossroad. We are in need of a makeover! During the past few decades, the emphasis in our specialty has gradually shifted from a purely specialty-based clinical perspective to a more holistic and multidisciplinary approach to patient care and experience. The image of us being the “Tube & Bag Docs” is long gone, and thankfully so. In the modern environment of comprehensive patient care, we are perfectly positioned to take on newer and uncharted leadership roles in this exciting sphere of perioperative medicine. This is where books like the Medical Management of the Surgical Patient: A Textbook of Perioperative Medicine by Dr. Lubin and colleagues are especially relevant to us as anesthesiologists. If we fashion ourselves to be the perioperative physicians in the hospital, texts like this could prove to be useful tools in our armamentarium.
In its 5th edition, this book has a challenging task at hand. To be able to satisfy the needs of a broad spectrum of perioperative physician consultants, from internists to family practitioners, from surgical specialists to anesthesiologists, and from cardiologists to nephrologists, can be unnerving. Kudos to Dr. Lubin and his team for assembling contributors from various specialties from all over United States for this book. As can be expected from a textbook of this genre, there are 26 sections and 145 chapters spread over 839 pages. It is definitely not for the faint hearted!
The chapters are well organized into parts and sections. The book has mainly two parts. The first part deals with the perioperative care of surgical patients and has chapters dedicated to systemic medical problems encountered in the perioperative period. The second part deals with specific complications associated with surgical procedures. Overall, the chapters are well written, with succinct and relevant information. There are well-documented references at the end of each chapter. To the purists, the material may seem a little too brief and, dare I say, inadequate at times but, again, this is a comprehensive book with a wide scope of practice, and this genre often falls victim to this impression. Overall, the wide range of topics and chapters seems to cover the bases well and adheres to the objectives stated by the editors at the very outset.
Now comes the most important question, for whom is this book useful? Although the authors in their preface mention that this book is aimed at a wide spectrum of clinicians and consultants in the perioperative period, that same goal could sometimes prove to be the Achilles’ heel! I just cannot shake the notion that this book is in a kind of medical no man’s land! However, in the same breath, I must also confess that in its 5th edition, this book should appeal to a wide range of residents and perioperative physicians, including anesthesiologists. Hopefully in the modern era of perioperative surgical homes and patient centered care, texts like this will become even more relevant. I can imagine texts like this will be more commonly found on the desks of future busy perioperative physicians and consultants, like it or not!