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The Maudsley prescribing guidelines are produced each year for a local readership, but this, the fifth edition, is the first to go public. The authors and principal contributors, a mixture of pharmacists and psychiatrists with an interest and background in clinical psychopharmacology, are to be complimented on producing a guide of manageable size and ready accessibility.
The book is divided into sections dealing with the treatment of broad groups of clinical disorders—for example, psychosis—special patient populations—for example, elderly people, with further sections on the management of emergencies and the adverse effects of psychotropic drugs. Much of the information is laid out in tabular form. It could become an indispensable resource for a busy on call senior house officer (the dimensions would fit comfortably into the pocket of a clinical white coat, were they still to be worn) but more senior clinicians will find plenty of use for it in the clinic. It does not aim at great erudition, but provides a useful list of references.
There are a few cavils. The section on treatment of anxiety is skimpy (one and a half pages) compared with say the treatment of affective illness (22 pages) or psychosis (16 pages). The brevity is only partly explained by the undeveloped state of that particular area of psychopharmacology. Sections on contraindications to and indications for lumbar puncture and indications for EEG seem to have been displaced from some other primer for busy junior doctors. There is no index.
These quibbles apart, prescribing guidelines can be wholeheartedly recommended.