This article is from the ER FAQ, by Rose Cooper firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
The definitive textbook for this specialty is "Emergency Medicine:
Concepts and Clinical Practice," by Peter Rosen, currently in third
edition. Peter is about as close to a god as we get, and his textbook is
very complete and full of useful details. There is a downside to it,
though -- it's a three volume set and not very portable, and like all medical
texts, is horrendously expensive, running anywhere from $350 to $450 (all
prices in 1998 Canadian funds, except where noted).
Smaller, somewhat cheaper, but by no means inferior is Judith
Tintinalli's "Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide," or as we call
it around here, "Big Red." It's big, and it is red, and it'll cost you
about $210. It's in fourth edition right now, and is an excellent book for
the student, and you can read it on the bus if you feel so inclined to stick
it in your backpack. It has hand reference charts on the inside of the covers
(which feature Large, Friendly Letters on them), good diagrams and pictures,
and a logical, sequential explanation of emergency medicine care. If you only
buy one book, buy this one.
Even smaller and much cheaper is "Current Emergency Diagnosis and
Treatment." I used to recommend this one first to non-medical folks because
it's pretty accessible, with nifty flowcharts and it was much smaller than
either Rosen or Tintinalli. It's also about $60, but is considerably less
detailed. I also recommend it because it has a whole chapter on emergency
procedures including everything from cutdowns to thoracotomies.
Unfortunately, Charles Saunders, the editor, hasn't put out a new edition
in almost six years, which means this textbook is now out of date. The fifth
edition is due out Real Soon Now, and I suggest you consult the Jargon File
for details on what that means.
Those are about all you, as a viewer of ER who wants to know more,
should probably have to read. If you have little background in medicine,
anatomy, and physiology, you'll need introductory texts in those fields too.
I highly recommend Appleton and Lange's Current series of clinical manuals,
despite the fact that some of them are out of date -- "Current Medical
Diagnosis and Treatment" is an excellent general medical textbook, updated
yearly, and I've gotten into the habit of buying the current edition.
(Actually, I strongly recommend to any med students and other doctors out
there reading this that you do the same, and pick one text within your
discipline and always buy the latest edition. I pick Rosen, for what it's
worth, though I buy them all sooner or later).
If you're at all serious about emergency medicine (and even if not and
just want to look cool on the bus), there's a journal you must read:
"Annals of Emergency Medicine," the official journal of ACEP. Individual
subscriptions will run $140USD; paramedics, students, and residents pay
$47USD. It's a very useful journal, most of it well-written covering just
about every branch of emergency medicine over the course of a year. There
are also some nicely done anecdotes about emergency medicine I recommend you
read; MG Hughes' "Wings" from the February 1998 issue for an example of what
life is like on an airevac crew, for example. Annals is published twelve
times a year by Mosby's; see the ACEP Web site for more specific information
on this very cool journal, or see
<http://www1.mosby.com/Mosby/Periodicals/Medical/AEM/em.html> for the
sorta on-line version.
BasicBooks has published "The Medicine of `ER`"; see section #8.1 for
For a briefer look at emergency medicine (also to see the origin of some
of the show`s plot devices), Michael Crichton has re-published his book
"Five Patients". It should be available at your local bookstore.