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News & Articles > 4 Star Review of On Call Surgery, 4th Edition

On Call Surgery, 4th Edition

By Gregg A. Adams, MD, FACS, Stephen D. Bresnick, MD, DDS, Jared Forrester, MD and Graeme Rosenberg, MD

ISBN: 9780323528894

Pub Date: 02 May 2019

Reviewed by: Kelsey Elyce Koch, MD (University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics)


This is the fourth edition of a pocket manual to aid in the diagnosis and management of common surgical problems encountered while being on call. Each chapter addresses a specific problem likely to be faced by a medical student or resident and uses a structure that mimics the sequence of events for calls and consults on surgical patients, starting with the presenting phone call and progressing through differential diagnosis, physical exam, and management. This edition is accompanied by an online version that is searchable and easy to review. The previous edition published in 2006.


The aim is to provide medical students and residents with the tools to address common surgical problems while on call. It is organized to teach junior residents the pattern in which critical thinking and action should occur in these common scenarios. This book is small and portable, and as it also comes with a complete online version, meets its goal of being a quick reference when the resident may have minimal facts about the patient. With increasing limits on training time and handing over patients that may not be well known to the on-call resident, this book aims to efficiently teach assessment of problems as well as management of patients. This is a valuable resource for trainees, although at times may be useless if an emergency occurs and there isn’t enough time to reference it. The searchable online version seems to address this and provides readers with direction more quickly than flipping through the book.


The stated audience is medical students, residents, or any “on-call professional,” but the book is most appropriate for medical students in the third and fourth years of training as well as junior residents, especially interns. This book seems less likely to be helpful for senior residents, fellows, or attendings as they should already be able to assess a critical situation and manage common floor calls. The authors include surgical attendings and residents, providing appropriate levels of authority on the topic.


This book encompasses the breadth of problems surgical residents are likely to encounter while covering general surgery patients. It organizes the process of addressing issues in a clear, organized manner that is thorough and educational. It does an excellent job of thoroughly reviewing the steps of answering floor calls and emergencies common to surgical patients. It also provides condensed information in tables to provide fast answers to difficult issues. The authors take a significant amount of information and highlight key sections for surgical residents. All text, tables, and images appear in the online version as well. One drawback is the density of the information.Although well organized and detailed, during an actual on-call event there may not be enough time to read through an entire chapter point by point. The authors seemed to have addressed this concern by placing high yield tables and images throughout the book.


This has a wealth of surgical management information in a conveniently sized book with easy access to a digital copy. It would be an exceptional asset to the arsenal of well-prepared medical students and interns, preparing them to care for surgical patients. A drawback to the book is, as with any reference, the lack of time a trainee may have to thoroughly review the pertinent information between the time they are called by the RN and when they need to evaluate the patient at bedside. This could be addressed by including this book as a part of a study regimen and reviewing the entire chapter after encountering a consult or sick patient in order to educate oneself and improve on the care provided. With the change in demands on a surgical resident’s time, including duty hour restrictions and increasing EMR demands, an update of this book to ensure an organized approach to critical thinking seems appropriate.With the change in demands on a surgical resident’s time including duty hour restrictions and increasing EMR demands, a new version of this text to ensure an organized approach to critical thinking seems an appropriate update.

Doody’s Review Service Weighted Numerical Score: 94-4 Stars!

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