Thursday, January 19, 2012

Book Review: Davis's Drug Guide for Nurses, Twelfth Edition

As always, I begin my book reviews with the disclosure that I did not receive financial compensation of any kind for this review, but did receive a free copy of this drug guide from Majors Books in order to facilitate the review process.
Some frequent readers of Digital Doorway will recall that I posted a review of the Nursing 2012 Drug Handbook on November 22nd of last year, and I was quite pleased with the overall layout and presentation of that particular drug guide for nurses. Since I happen to have both the Nursing 2012 Drug Guide and my review of said book in the forefront of my mind, the following review of Davis's Drug Guide for Nurses will be written as I take the differences and similarities between these two recently published drug guides for nurses into consideration.

General  layout

The 12th edition of Davis's Drug Guide for Nurses appears to be extremely similar to its brethren, both in size, layout and general offerings.

Both Davis's guide and Nursing 2012 use almost the exact same color scheme for their drug monograph pages, with slight differences in font size and type. I find Nursing 2012 slightly easier on the eye in terms of font choice, but Davis's is also relatively readable without strain.

Drug monograph layout

Comparing drug monograph layout, there is generally little difference between these nursing drug guides, but I will take the time to elucidate several small differences which may or may not have a great impact on the user.

If we consider indications and dosages, I appreciate that Nursing 2012 combines both of these attributes of every  drug at the beginning of each drug monograph, clearly delineating the pertinent details for both adults and children. Meanwhile, Davis's guide lists indications first and offers dosages and routes much later in each monograph. Personally, I prefer having the dosages and indications up front as soon as I begin reading about a drug, but the publishers and writers at Davis seem to feel that action, pharmacokinetics, contraindications and precautions, adverse reactions, side effects and interactions come first. I assume it is a matter of personal preference.

The Davis drug guide uses a red maple leaf symbol to specify medications that apply specifically to Canadian clinicians and nursing practice. This is a nice touch, and our Canadian brethren may very much appreciate this attention to detail on their behalf.

While Nursing 2012 uses boldly-lettered "Black Box Warnings" to indicate a warning that necessitates caution and attention, Davis prefers a red "High Alert" warning label.

Both books include the steps of the nursing process within the monographs, warnings regarding interactions of drugs with foods and herbs, and various aspects of IV medication administration. 

Drug photographs

Many drug guides now offer photographs of commonly used medications, and this can be an invaluable tool for identification of medications and patient education. Nursing 2012 offers a photo guide to 396 common tablets and capsules. The photographs are full color, life-size, alphabetized, and located in the center of the book. The edges of the pages are shaded a different color so that this section can be handily and quickly utilized.

Davis's Drug Guide offers photographs only of medications with "Tall Man Lettering Changes" which have been recently mandated by the FDA. There are 33 medications with look-alike names and spellings which have now been changed to identify them and reduce confusion and medication errors. Examples of these "Tall Man" lettering changes are CycloSPORINE and CycloSERINE or GlipiZIDE and GlyBURIDE.

While having these mandated changes delineated clearly for readers is an excellent edition that Nursing 2012 lacks, having photographs of only 33 medications compared to the 396 medications displayed photographically in the Nursing 2012 Drug Handbook leaves little room for comparison. Nursing 2012 wins hands down for its use of photographic images.

Of note, the photographs of the "Tall Man" drugs in Davis's book are lumped together with other sections of special information. The edges of the pages of all of these special information sections are shaded with the same color, thus the pages of medication photographs are awkward to find and consequently less than handy.

Digital Offerings

The Davis guide comes with a CD -ROM (compatible with both PC and Mac) that offers an audio library of drug names, a drug search program, updated tutorials on medication errors, wound care and psychotropic drugs, as well as calculators for BMI, metric conversions, IV drip rates, and other features. There is also a free mobile device download of 100 drug monographs and resources available online at DavisPLUS.

Meanwhile, Nursing 2012 delivers access to an online drug advisor, patient teaching sheets, CEUs, as as well as detailed monographs of every drug listed in the book and some medications not included in the print version. This can all mostly be downloaded or viewed on a mobile device. Still, I feel it would behoove the publishers of Nursing 2012 to consider the addition of a CD-ROM in subsequent editions.

The Summing Up

For overall readability, layout and design, I definitely prefer the Nursing 2012 Drug Handbook over Davis's Drug Guide for Nurses, Twelfth Edition. Nursing 2012's inclusion of far more photographic images of medications and its slightly better font choices make it preferable for me, however Davis's inclusion of the CD-ROM, Canadian specifications and "Tall Man" lettering changes mandated by the FDA are also important features to consider.

These two guides are quite comparable, and both offer nurses the information they need in not dissimilar formats and designs. In terms of most of the differences, personal preference may be the deciding factor for many nurses. And for those enamored of the photographic images of drugs, Nursing 2012 is the best choice. Still, a prudent nurse cannot go wrong with either guide, and both will certainly lend themselves to safer care, fewer medication errors, and nurses who have the information they need at their fingertips.


If any readers of Digital Doorway would like a 10% discount on the Davis Drug Guide from Majors Books, please use the code "nursekeith" when checking out. This offer is valid for 30 days. I receive no compensation for sales of this book through Majors Books. This is simply a gift to my readers from me, and a thank you from Majors Books for the review. 

That said, the first commenter on this post who can tell me the name of two famous nursing theorists and their main theories of nursing will win a copy of Davis's Drug Guide for Nurses from me!  The winner will be announced within the "comments" section, and that individual will need to send their mailing address to


ErinK said...

Orem's Self Care theory and Nightingale's Environmental theory :)

Keith "Nurse Keith" Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC said...

Erin, you are the winner! Can you please send your snail mail address to Congrats!

ErinK said...

Yay! Yup, will do :) thanks!

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