Last Autumn we reviewed McGraw-Hill’s Color Atlas of Family Medicine, declaring it a comprehensive atlas quite useful for primary practioners.

Here we review the App version of another work developed by Usatine Media LLC in the McGraw-Hill Atlas series — the Atlas of Emergency Medicine (3rd edition). The Atlas prides itself on being the “single most authoritative collection of clinical images, illustrations, ultrasounds, radiographs, and EKG’s that are seen in the emergency department”.

Edited by Emergency Medicine professors from the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences and Vanderbilt University, the 3rd edition of the Atlas has received positive reviews as both a reference text and learning tool as well as a guide that can be used in the ED at the point-of-care (though portability is an issue: it’s a 932-page hardcover behemoth! Not likely to fit in your white coat pockets).

Transformed into app form by Usatine Media, the Atlas brings its full content to the iPhone and iPod touch, and is customized for the iPad as well.  The iPad pictures of the App will be included on the second page of this review. 

In terms of changes made for this 3rd edition of the Atlas, the Foreword notes the presence of new chapters covering the airway, EKG, toxicology, and tropical diseases. Moreover, this edition boasts more than double the number of images in prior editions of the Atlas. Finally, this edition features new “Clinical Pearls” sections for summaries of key points.

As for the app itself, the Atlas App’s home screen displays the Table of Contents, along with functions across the bottom bar that include “Contents,” “Index,” “Search Text,” “Search Figures,” and “More.”

The Table of Contents is conveniently organized locally by organ system (Eye, ENT, Mouth, Chest and Abdomen, etc.), by category (Forensic Medicine, Tropical Medicine, etc.), or imaging modality (EKG Abnormalities, Emergency Ultrasound, etc.). This division of chapters through the Table of Contents is most useful when the App is browsed as a textbook for learning.

Clicking on a chapter (here, Extremity Trauma) displays a scrollable list of the chapter’s topics.

Clicking on a section (here, Shoulder Dislocation, 11-2) brings up the topic’s associated image thumbnails followed by the topic text, which characteristically includes the following sections: Clinical Summary, Emergency Department Treatment and Disposition, Pearls, and a repeat of the image thumbnails at the end of the section. Clicking on an image thumbnail (here, a plain film radiograph depicting posterior shoulder dislocation) displays the image (clinical or radiograph) with a descriptive caption (here, pointing out the “ice cream cone sign”). Of note, the images can be magnified for a closer look.

Although the Table of Contents is an appropriate method of browsing the Atlas as a textbook for learning, the Text Search and Figures Search represent more powerful tools for point-of-care or quick reference use. These two search functions are separate and located along the bottom bar.

A few improvements to the search function in this App over the Color Atlas of Family Medicine App include auto-complete suggestions for search terms, search results of sections sorted by the number of matches, and search terms highlighted in yellow.

Also of note, the App “remembers” previous searches such that they appear in the search function start screen. Indeed, we feel this App’s search function represents a pronounced upgrade over the Color Atlas of Family Medicine App’s search function.

The Figures Search function works the same way, and the previous searches are synced between the Text and Figures Searches.

Continue on for the summary and for pictures of the app on the iPad: