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Am Fam Physician. 1998;57(7):1712-1713

Domestic Violence and Health Care: What Every Professional Needs to Know

By Sherri L. Schornstein. Pp. 186. Price, $19.95. SAGE Publications, 2455 Teller Rd., Thousand Oaks, CA 91320, 1997.

In Domestic Violence and Health Care: What Every Professional Needs to Know, Sherri Schornstein presents a sensitive approach to the identification and legal treatment of domestic abuse victims. Focusing on different aspects of intimate partner abuse, the author gives a multidisciplinary and multifaceted response to victimized patients who present for treatment in the emergency department or the private office. The strengths of battered patients are emphasized early in the book, while the myths and stereotypes so often associated with this subject are exposed and debunked.

The author begins with an excellent overview of domestic violence and how this problem has been addressed throughout history. The familiar legal phrase “rule of thumb” and its pervasive influence on both society and the law as a means of justifying abuse toward women is discussed frankly. The author continues on to reveal the most recent psychologic and sociologic research on the dynamics of abusive relationships and commonalities associated with batterers and victims. Clearly emphasized, however, is the important fact that specific patient profiles do not exist, and anyone who presents for medical treatment can be at risk for domestic violence.

Chapters 4 and 5 focus on the critical aspects of taking a thorough abuse history and conducting a thorough physical examination, documenting injuries (including forensic photography) and collecting physical evidence. Proper emphasis is given to performing a danger assessment of the patient and developing a safety plan, particularly in cases in which the victim will be returning to the abusive situation. Educating patients concerning the cycle of violence and community referral resources are also highlighted as an integral part of treatment before discharge.

The final portion of the book includes a comprehensive discussion of the physician's legal responsibilities and how the system operates. Relevant topics include federal and state notification laws and the controversial mandatory reporting requirements, which directly impact all primary care physicians. An entire chapter is devoted to safety protocols and OSHA security measures, including how to respond to unruly or uncontrollable individuals. Although the material is geared toward hospitals, some of this information is applicable to the private office setting. The author concludes with a thorough presentation on how to prepare testimony, respond to a subpoena and make pretrial preparations. Although with thorough documentation most family physicians will not need to testify in court, this chapter is a ready reference for all family physicians who are interested in the legal process or must be a witness in a domestic violence case.

Sherri Schornstein's book is a long-awaited resource for every family physician who will inevitably encounter victimized patients in his or her practice. Although the physical injury assessment section could have included more information on the different types of trauma and pattern of injuries seen in battered women, the material overall is well balanced in its medical and legal content. The relevant domestic violence material, which every family physician must know, is brought to life through specific examples by the author (a prosecuting attorney for abuse survivors) and adds a personal reality to this difficult subject. This book fills an important gap in the family medicine literature and is a requisite source for all family physicians interested in improving the health care provided to abused patients.

Allergic Diseases: Diagnosis and Treatment

Edited by Phil Lieberman and John A. Anderson. Pp. 402. Price, $89.50. Humana Press, 999 Riverview Dr., Suite 208, Totowa, NJ 07512, 1997.

Allergic Diseases is a good office resource for family physicians and a good general review of common allergic diseases for specialists. Edited by two past presidents of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the textbook covers topics ranging from pathophysiology of allergic diseases to anaphylaxis to allergic diseases of the eye, with many chapters devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of asthma.

The chapters were written by well-known practicing and academic allergists and noted researchers, with clear and concise explanations of allergic processes. When a textbook with many contributors is published, it is often difficult to maintain the ease of readability and the clarity of writing throughout; these editors have successfully accomplished both tasks.

The textbook may be used by the family physician as a review of the basic processes of allergic diseases and also in the evaluation and treatment of specific allergic diseases such as asthma. In certain chapters, more information may be given than the physician wants; however, it is presented in an informative, well-written and clear manner. It also gives the allergic specialist more procedural information and a review of current information.

The authors of the first chapter provide an up-to-date review of IgE production, including the switching process of IgM to IgE. Although the authors mention this process, a detailed explanation is beyond the scope of the textbook.

Various chapters provide helpful office questionnaires for taking an allergy history and include other useful clinical information such as patient education. There is an informative section on environmental allergens, including a table of significant antigens from all regions of the country, as well as a section on pollen seasons by region.

The textbook's asthma guidelines are based on the 1991 National Asthma Education Program (NAEP) guidelines. The guidelines, recently released by the NAEP, are not much different from the ones published in 1991.

The textbook has a few minor problems. The topic of leukotrienes in the pathophysiology of asthma symptoms is included. However, leukotrienes are not listed in the treatment of asthma.

The drug reaction section may be too detailed for primary care physicians, listing oral penicillin desensitization, for example. Even though primary care physicians do not conduct desensitization therapy, they should be familiar with the process.

The chapter on controversies in allergies could have been expanded to include more on hypersensitivity to Candida, since this “theory” pops up often. However, this chapter gives the reader good background information to counsel patients on these unproven methods.

Although latex allergy is mentioned in several chapters, it would have been easier for the reader if all of the latex allergy information was together in its own section, especially since latex allergy is becoming more prevalent among health care providers.

Also Received

Adult and Pediatric Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment

Edited by Lowell A. Goldsmith, Gerald S. Lazarus and Michael D. Tharp. Pp. 627. Price, $59.95. F.A. Davis Company, 1915 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA 19103, 1997.

The Clinician's Handbook of Natural Healing

By Gary Null. Pp. 857. Price, $60.00. Kensington Books, 850 Third Ave., New York, NY 10022, 1998.

Fundamentals of Clinical Practice: A Textbook on the Patient, Doctor, and Society

Edited by Mark B. Mengel and Warren L. Holleman. Pp. 515. Price, $59.50. Plenum Publishing, 233 Spring St., New York, NY 10013-1578, 1997.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

By R. Don Gambrell, Jr. Pp. 167. Price, $14.95. 5th ed. EMIS Medical Publishers, P.O. Box 1607, Durant, OK 74702, 1997.

Hospice and Palliative Care: Questions and Answers

By Virginia F. Sendor and Patrice M. O'Connor. Pp. 250. Price, $36.00. Scarecrow Press, 4720 Boston Way, Lanham, MD 20706, 1997.

The Pocket Pediatrician: 650 Tips on Caring for Kids

By Michael A. LaCombe. Price, $6.95. Andrews and McMeel, 4520 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64111, 1997.

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