'Emergency' textbook by NUH doctors an unexpected hit
Professors' guide to emergency medicine essentials sells more than 25,000 copies worldwide
Books can save lives. At a conference in Malaysia last year, Associate Professor Shirley Ooi had junior doctors approaching her to thank her for a book she co-edited - Guide To The Essentials In Emergency Medicine.
They told her they often refer to her book when emergencies occur in their departments.
The guide, edited by Associate Prof Ooi and Associate Professor Peter Manning, became an unexpected hit, selling over 15,000 copies since it was published in 2004.
They have more than 60 years of medical experience combined and work at National University Hospital's emergency medicine department. They also lecture at the National University of Singapore's Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.
The book was published in a dozen other countries, including Mexico and the US, and there has been interest from countries such as Turkey to get it translated.
The guide serves as a textbook on practical management of the most life-threatening and common conditions encountered by emergency physicians.
The book's international success came as a surprise to the professors as their initial target market - emergency physicians - was small here.
Prof Ooi said: "We were wondering how we were even going to have a market."
But they pushed through, and now, it is common for doctors to approach editors at medical conferences, asking if they were responsible for "the black book", referring to the first edition's cover.
During a medical conference in Malaysia, participants even asked Prof Ooi for photographs and autographs.
The book was created to address the differences in practices and approaches among emergency medicine specialists here, said its editors.
As there were fewer senior emergency medicine specialists to tap on in the 1990s, Prof Ooi created a list of common conditions to help supporting medical officers treat emergency patients.
She encouraged her colleagues to contribute as well.
These lists were kept in folders around the emergency medicine department so doctors could access them easily. But sections or entire folders would sometimes go missing.
That prompted Prof Ooi to compile the lists into a book so that more doctors could have access to the information.
The book's second edition, which was released in 2014, has already sold about 10,000 copies worldwide.
The emergency medicine consultants said their jobs will be made easier if patients are more proactive.
Prof Manning said some patients come in knowing nothing about their own medical history or what medications they have been prescribed.
He encouraged patients to bring their prescribed medication along on emergency visits.
He said: "Knowing something about their medical histories would help us a lot. Every minute can count in an emergency."