Which Emergency Medicine Textbook Should You Read First?

emergency medicine books
As Dan Sanberg once said; “Emergency Medicine is the most interesting 15 minutes of all specialties”. Indeed, if we were to recommend one textbook to a newly graduated physician, it would probably make the most sense for it to be an Emergency Medicine textbook. So which one? I asked this question in Turkish and English to the Twitterverse recently. The responses showed once again the diversity of emergency medicine resources and the importance of basic textbooks. https://twitter.com/ibrahimsarbay/status/1305952482414206977 Justin Hensley reminded the fallacy of the sentence “I’ll read it just on the Internet” and the importance of keeping up-to-date as follows:I’m not sure there’s a right answer to this. Honestly, I would say the one that has the most recent new addition, because it will be the least out of date. The fundamentals need to come out of a text and not #FOAMed though. Can’t build a pyramid without a base. Shehni Nadeem said: “It’s hard to pick ONE. Here’s why: 1) Textbooks are critical to forming that foundation of knowledge but must be kept current 2) Ea textbook has a slightly different read to it. I would encourage the learner to try out each one and see which fits the best (did this as an intern)” Isn’t it a great idea to leave the preference to the reader by giving general information about the books rather than ranking the best for “me” or “person x”? Let’s do it like this. We will discuss the books included in this article in two groups according to book sizes.

Hand and Pocket Size Textbooks

You cannot see a doctor standing at the bedside with a large reference book in his/her hands. In fact, most textbooks are not even suitable to keep in your bag and take it wherever you go (Hello, back pains, hello!). Hand and pocket books have been prepared to solve this problem. TL; DR (Too long, didn’t read), the small ones of these books are called “pocket books” and the bigger ones are called “handbooks”. Isn’t that great? Yes, but please remember that “only” studying handbooks may not be enough if you haven’t read the topics from a broader source before. It is best to move on to these books after doing the basic reading. Or, as we all did when we first turned the pages of Tarascon, you’ll stare at the pages for a long time and try to understand whether it is English or Klingon.

1- Oxford Handbook of Emergency Medicine

The Oxford Handbook of Emergency Medicine, whose 5th edition has been released recently, is a starter book prepared for medical students, paramedics and physicians. The manual-sized work is still 800 pages long and contains basic information on many subjects from life-threatening emergencies to ENT, analgesia to toxicology. The fourth edition of the book was released in 2012. Emergency Medicine professor Richard Body also recommends this book to our readers as a starter book.

2- Emergency Medicine Secrets

Unlike many resource books, Emergency Medicine Secrets deals with questions and answers on every subject. For example, when you look at the Pneumonia section, you can find various questions (and answers, of course) such as, “Why should I learn about Pneumonia?”, “How does pulmonary infection develop?”, “What are the differences between the presentations of typical and atypical pneumonia?”. The book that can really benefit to the reader in this respect is 768 pages long.

3- Avoiding Common Errors in the Emergency Department

This work by Amal Mattu et al., One of the well-known names in FOAMed world, discusses 365 common mistakes in emergency medicine practice in a chatty, easy-to-read style, and offers practical, easy-to-remember tips to avoid these pitfalls. The fact that the chapters are short and understandable allows easy reading even when you are working. The second edition published in 2017 has a total of 1080 pages.

4- EM Fundamentals: The Essential Handbook for Emergency Medicine Residents

This pocket guide, prepared by EMRA (Emergency Medicine Residents Association) for Emergency Medicine residents, is one of the ideal books you can take with you during your emergency department shifts. On 366 pages, it summarizes common situations that may be encountered in the emergency room, in clear language and without missing the necessary emphasis.

5- Tarascon Adult Emergency Pocketbook

I do not think there is an emergency medicine physician unfamiliar with Tarascon (at least in Turkey). We know that on many Emergency Medicine Clinics those who do not have Tarascon in their pockets at bedside visits are condemned. As someone who is always amazed at how many things fit into this 240-page pocket book, I say, “If you haven’t found what you are looking for in basic emergency medicine in this book, look again, there is for sure.” Tarascon published books in a series style from Pediatric Emergency to Orthopedics. I recommend especially Adult Emergency and Medical Procedures pocket books. Character sizes may spoil the taste of those who like to read books written in big fonts and large line spacings. But the goal here is to be as small as possible, so it is understandable.

6- Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine Manual

Would there be an Emergency Medicine list without Tintinalli? Tintinalli book appears with large-small-median dimensions. The last version of this book, which is easy to read and will not let the reader down with its structure containing plenty of pictures, tables and graphics, is the 8th edition published in 2017. It covers every subject an Emergency physician may need, and Palliative Care is no exception. The preface to the latest edition is also giving a glimpse of Emergency Medicine’s history.

Large Textbooks

Large textbooks that might be expected not to leave “anything missing” in their field often have a serious volume and a long list of authors. These works that will have a dedicated spot in your library to grab and read from time to time over the years may be too much for a medical student or a newly graduated physician. But if it is necessary to prepare a presentation or learn a subject in depth, the address is clear.

1- Adams Emergency Medicine: Clinical Essentials

This 1888-page “tome”, which weighs nearly 5 kilograms, provides extensive information on any subject you may need in a visually rich and easily understandable language. The disadvantage is that the second original edition is dated 2012. So it may be partly outdated. Elsevier is sharing the book online (for a fee) under the title Adams Emergency Medicine Review. However, even that was published in 2015.

2- Clinical Emergency Medicine

Clinical Emergency Medicine contains information on the diagnosis and treatment of 98 changes and condition in 400 pages. Each chapter starts with the Key Points. It also continues with Introduction, Clinical Presentation (History and Physical Examination), Diagnostic Studies, Medical Decision Making, Treatment and Discharge, and Reading Recommendations. The printing date is a bit old. The last edition was published in 2014.

3- Diagnosis And Management Emergency Medicine

The 556-page work by Mike Cadogan is not only practical, but also includes a very comprehensive content. The eighth edition has been completely revised and updated. the book covers all emergencies as well as procedures and administrative and legal issues.

4- First Aid For The Emergency Medicine Boards

Published for those who want to prepare for the Emergency Medicine Boards exams organized by the American Board of Emergency Medicine, this book offers a great option for those who want concise summaries with reminder boxes, notes, mnemonics and clinical pearls. Each subject is briefly described in subheadings such as Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment in this approximately 1000-page book.

5- CURRENT Medical Diagnosis And Treatment

This book can be considered as an Internal Medicine textbook. However, in addition to Internal Medicine subspecialties such as geriatrics, preventive medicine and palliative care; it offers detailed reviews of all internal medicine disciplines such as gynecology and obstetrics, dermatology, ophthalmology, neurology, psychiatry, and infectious diseases. The book includes the diagnosis and treatment of more than 1000 diseases and is about 2000 pages. It is ALWAYS up-to-date due to its yearly updates.

6- Rosen & Barkin’s 5-Minute Emergency Medicine Consult

In this textbook, each subject is summarized in 2 pages divided into three sections. The last edition of the chapter, in which every subject is explained systematically in Introduction, Diagnosis, Treatment, Follow-up, Tips, Reading, ICD Codes sections. Its last edition was published in 2019 with a length of 1256 pages.

7- Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts And Clinical Practice

This book is one of the “brand”s of our field. The original version is 2688 pages long. When you think about it yu will realise that even if you read 10 pages a day, it will be over in 9 months. Due to its size, its suitability for colleagues who do not intend to acquire an Emergency Medicine profession can be discussed, but making a list that Rosen is not included will also upset every Emergency physician.

8- Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine

I think it would suffice to say that it is the best selling Emergency Medicine book worldwide. Tintinalli’s word is deed, wherever Emergency Medicine is experienced, from in-clinic trainings to certification exams. The 9th edition, published very recently, is 2160 pages long. Pre-hospital care, disaster preparedness and resuscitation techniques… You can find everything you can think of in this book, from all major medical, traumatic and environmental conditions that require urgent treatment in adults, children and neonates.


Suppose you are going to Antarctica as a “team doctor”. You will be completely isolated from the outside world for 3 months. Neither a plane nor a ship will bring aid. Which textbook would you choose to take with you? In my opinion, the answer to this question for every physician is an Emergency Medicine textbook. Due to the nature of our expertise, every textbook will undoubtedly help Emergency in at least one way. If you choose to read a good Dermatology or a good ENT textbook, you will definitely benefit. From another angle, even the most comprehensive Emergency Medicine textbook will not enable you to learn everything, for example, a thorough understanding of all heart rhythms or interventional procedures. You should refer to thousands of pages of books written specifically for these. Therefore, our aim in this article was to present a collection of textbooks that examine Emergency Medicine as a whole. While choosing from hundreds of textbooks, we got the great support of the Twitter #FOAMed world. Most of the photos above were provided by the physicians mentioned below. I thank them very much. If knowledge is a flower garden, textbooks are honeycombs prepared by “master” bees by roaming around those flowers. Rather than visiting thousands of flowers one by one and trying to distinguish between good and bad; it would be most logical to set the foundation on these “honeycombs” and set sail to new gardens. What did Justin Hensley say? “You can’t build a pyramid without a base.” Exactly.   We would like to thank the following names for their contributions to this article (alphabetical order): Ali Kemal Yıldız, Arif Alper Çevik, Ayhan Özhasenekler, Barış Murat Ayvacı, Berika Kavaz Kuru, Bora Çekmen, Burak Özkan, Cem Turam, Ener Çağrı Dinleyici, Fatih Beşer, Gizem Altınsoy, Göksu Afacan Öztürk, Haldun Akoğlu, İbrahim Varol, Justin Hensley, Mehmet Çulha, Mike Cadogan, Nevrez Koylan, Nurettin Özgür Doğan, Oğuzhan Aytepe, Onurcan Kaya, Richard Body, Salahi Engin, Shehni Nadeem, Yonca Bulut, Yusuf Ali Altuncı, Zeynep Kekeç. You can read the Turkish version of this article on Acilci.net: “Hangi Acil Tıp Kitabı?”
Cite this article as: Ibrahim Sarbay, Turkey, "Which Emergency Medicine Textbook Should You Read First?," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, February 8, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/02/08/emergency-medicine-textbooks/, date accessed: September 21, 2023

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