The care of the acutely ill adult: an essential guide for nurses.
Edited by Fiona Creed and Christine Spiers.

The acuity of the inpatient population has been increasing over a number of decades. Initiatives such as day surgery centres, urgent care teams, community matrons and assisted discharge teams mean that those patients actually classified as inpatients are usually very sick. There is therefore a necessity for nurses who work in the acute hospital setting and across the primary and secondary care setting to have a good understanding of the complex physiology of illness, and its detection and management.

The care of the acutely ill adult: an essential guide for nurses, edited by Fiona Creed and Christine Spiers is intended for acute care staff with the aim of improving knowledge of the recognition of the deteriorating patient, appropriate referral to senior colleagues or specialist teams and the initiation of treatment. As expected there are very good chapters on respiratory care (Chapter 2), cardiovascular care (Chapter 3) etc but this book has a contemporary feel. The editors contextualise present day acute care by reviewing the evidence that suboptimal care exists and the policy drivers to improve standards of care (Chapter 1). This contemporary theme is revisited in later chapters which include assessment tools, track and trigger systems (Chapter 11) and the role of outreach (Chapter 12).

Each chapter is set out in a logical format which includes chapter contents and learning outcomes for the reader. Chapter contents are written in a clear and understandable style and each chapter culminates with an end of chapter test and knowledge and skills assessment. Chapters are interspersed with “clinical links”. These activities require the reader to take time out and consider different aspects of patient assessment or management. These clinical link activities are a very useful learning and teaching aid. There are particularly useful chapters on fluid assessment and associated treatment (Chapter 7), assessment and care of the septic patient (Chapter 8), blood investigations in acute care (Chapter 10) and of course the importance of psycho social care is not forgotten (Chapter 9).

Acutely and critically ill patients are meant to be given the level of care their condition warrants regardless of location. Therefore I think all nurses who participate in caring for patients from Level 0 to Level 2 with find this book a useful and easily understood resource.

22nd December 2010
Vanessa Gibson
Teaching Fellow
Northumbria University
Newcastle upon Tyne


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