Acute Medical Emergencies - The Practical Approach2e
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More About This Title Acute Medical Emergencies - The Practical Approach2e


Acute Medical Emergencies is based on the popular Advanced Life Support Group course MedicALS (Medical Advanced Life Support) and is an invaluable resource for all doctors dealing with medical emergencies.

This comprehensive guide deals with the medical aspects of diagnosis and treatment of acute emergencies. Its structured approach teaches the novice how to assess and recognise a patient in an acute condition, and how to interpret vital symptoms such as breathlessness and chest or abdominal pain.

There are separate sections on interpretation of investigations, and procedures for managing the emergency. It covers procedures for acute emergencies occurring anywhere - on hospital wards or beyond. The clarity of the text, including simple line illustrations, ensure its tried and tested procedures provide clear, concise advice on recognition and management of medical emergencies.


The Advanced Life Support Group (ALSG), Manchester UK, began life in 1990 and became a registered medical education charity in 1993. The organisation exists to "preserve life by providing training and education to the general public and in particular but not exclusively to doctors, nurses and other members of the medical profession, in life saving techniques".
The book is written and edited by Emergency Medicine specialists who are Advanced Life Support Group (ALSG) trainers.


Working Group vii

Contributors to first edition viii

Contributors to second edition ix

Preface to second edition x

Preface to first edition xi

Acknowledgments xii

Part I: Introduction

Chapter 1 Introduction 3

Chapter 2 Recognition of the medical emergency 7

Part II: Structured Approach

Chapter 3 A structured approach to medical emergencies 15

Chapter 4 Airway assessment 33

Chapter 5 Breathing assessment 43

Chapter 6 Circulation assessment 55

Chapter 7 Disability assessment 67

Part III: Presenting Complaints

Chapter 8 The patient with breathing difficulties 87

Chapter 9 The patient with shock 121

Chapter 10 The patient with chest pain 147

Chapter 11 The patient with altered conscious level 159

Chapter 12 The ‘collapsed’ patient 187

Chapter 13 The overdose patient 203

Chapter 14 The patient with a headache 215

Chapter 15 The patient with abdominal pain 233

Chapter 16 The patient with hot red legs or cold white legs 261

Chapter 17 The patient with hot and/or swollen joints 269

Chapter 18 The patient with a rash 281

Chapter 19 The patient with acute confusion 293

Part IV: Organ Failure

Chapter 20 Organ failure 309

Part V: Special Circumstances

Chapter 21 The elderly patient 345

Chapter 22 Transportation of the seriously ill patient 355

Chapter 23 The pregnant patient 369

Chapter 24 The immunocompromised patient 377

Chapter 25 The patient with acute spinal cord compression 381

Part VI: Interpretation of Emergency Investigations

Chapter 26 Acid–base balance and blood gas analysis 387

Chapter 27 Dysrhythmia recognition 409

Chapter 28 Chest X-ray interpretation 431

Chapter 29 Haematological investigations 437

Chapter 30 Biochemical investigations 449

Part VII: Practical Procedures

Chapter 31 Practical procedures: airway and breathing 457

Chapter 32 Practical procedures: circulation 469

Chapter 33 Practical procedures: medical 477

Part VIII: Appendix

Appendix: Drugs commonly used in the management of medical emergencies 487

Answers to time out questions 493

Index 505


"Nevertheless, senior nurses with training responsiblitiies will find this book an invaluable reference source and, on this basis, copies should be kept in emergency departments as well as university and hospital libraries". (Emergency Nurse, 1 March 2011)