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4th edition isn't worth buying if you own 3rd edition
on July 23, 2009
I just bought the new 4th edition Boards and Wards and I was disappointed. Although it's a "new" edition, most of the new features include fluff as opposed to new content. For example, the text is in color for some of the headlines at the top of pages. There is also more color in the charts. They have also added more photos but the photos are not unique or anything you haven't seen before (girl with Turner's syndrome, picture of a louse on a hair shaft).
The only chapter that was noticeably different or improved was the Ophthalmology section. The Dermatology section was also improved a little but not significantly; they just added more obvious photos.
All in all, they added about 40 additional pages of which 10-15 is more content, the rest are photos and graphics related to charts. If you own the 3rd edition, I would not bother buying this one. If you are a medical student that wants to use this for studying for the boards and want to save money, buy a used 3rd edition.
I was sorely disappointed with the lack of additional content. There is still no separate Urology section and whatever urology is covered is pretty weak. The Medical and Legal section is still weak and only provides obvious definitions aka "what is a defendant in a court" as opposed to providing definitions of obscure legal terms aka "Res ipsa loquitur" or going into more detail regarding EMTALA, Hospice or unique situations regarding Informed Consent. The Outpatient medicine section was simply renamed "Family Medicine" and instead of providing different and pertinent FP information such as calcium requirements for women at different ages, it just takes snipets of information from the other chapters and just repeats it in this section. Lastly, the book should go into more detail regarding diagnosis and treatment. The diagnosis often doesn't distinquish between initial vs. confirmatory tests and simply lists a hodge podge of tests which really helps no one. And often times treatment is never stated or distinguished. For example, some cancers require both surgery and radiation. With the 5th edition, I hope the authors spend some time with regards to content instead of photos and the color of the borders. With that said, to the author's credit, this is still an excellent book and if one doesn't own Boards and Wards, this is a slightly improved version of the 3rd edition. And unlike authors of most textbooks, the Boards and Wards team did make an effort to improve their already excellent book, let's just hope they make an even bigger effort with the next edition.