With mobile health an ever-growing field, students and physicians are always looking for the best medical reference app.

While definitely not the best in its class, Patient Safety Manual, a new free app by Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, is a decent reference. This app is available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

The app opens to the index, which lists all of the available references within the app. The Patient Safety Manual contains information about how to manage certain conditions, such as alcohol withdrawal and chest pain, how to interpret EKGs, including example strips, and clinical scores such as the CHADS2 and TIMI scores.

You may access a list of clinical scores only by tapping the “Clinical Scores” area at the bottom of the screen.

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The interface is convenient and user-friendly, including a search function in the upper left hand corner, and an alphabetical scrolling bar on the right. Additionally, you can bookmark the information you use the most and find it quickly in the “bookmarks” section in the menu on the bottom of the screen.

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Unfortunately, the Patient Safety Manual app is somewhat lacking in content. The index itself is very brief, and some commonly used scores in clinical practice are omitted, such as the MELD or Glasgow coma scores. In fact, only nine clinical scores are available on this app. Also, the information provided under most treatment protocols is fairly basic and vague. For example, under Drug Safety, the app directs you to “See trust anticoagulation guide” for heparin and warfarin, with no further instruction.

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It is important to note that this app was created in the UK, not the US. Therefore, physicians in America should use the guidelines in this app cautiously, as some suggested practices may not be common in the US. Also, some sections or information are specific for Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

For example, the Pyramid Response to Unwell Patients provides numbers to call for the emergency response team, critical care response team, and acute response team specifically at these health systems. The section on medical and surgical handovers also includes a schedule for checkout at Guy’s and St. Thomas. However, these are easily ignored.

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There are several features I feel would improve this app. The app is not interactive at all. Calculating the clinical scores would be more convenient if the user could tap the applicable criteria for their patient, and the app could automatically calculate and interpret the score. More drug information and a more comprehensive list of clinical scores would be useful.

Right now, the app includes very little information about antibiotics, and the section about Common Drug Doses only includes analgesia, anti-emetics, and laxatives. The app could also use more information about different clinical scenarios, such as pneumonia, or a guide to managing a ventilator.

Likes:

  • Price is free, nothing to lose by downloading this app!
  • Decent reference for student doctors and residents
  • Friendly user interface
  • Bookmarking feature allows you to easily access the sections you use the most

Dislikes:

  •  Somewhat lacking in clinical information
  • Omits important clinical scoring systems
  • Created in the UK, with some information specific to the Guy’s and St. Thomas hospital system
  • Limited drug information
  • Not interactive

Conclusion:

  • The Patient Safety Manual is a fairly decent but mediocre medical reference app
  • It provides some useful information for junior doctors, but the content is lacking
  • The app does not allow for user input, rendering the calculation of clinical scores less convenient
  • Medical professionals can download it for free and may happen to find it useful in the future, but probably shouldn’t expect to use it as their primary resource.

iTunes Link