The Merck Manual of Medical Information, Home Edition

Ivor Benjamin, MD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Merck Manual Author: Robert Berkow (Editor), Mark H. Md. Beers (Editor)

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The Merck Manual is a well-known general medical reference used by thousands of Physicians. Merck Research Laboratories a major pharmaceutical company have published the Manual continuously since 1899. In fact, Merck claims that it is "the oldest continuously published general medical textbook in the English language". Although it is targeted at medical professionals, it has been widely used by medical students, nursing students and savvy health care consumers.

Now nearly a century later, Merck has released a version of this well respected volume for health care consumers. I have been a fan of the Merck Manual since I purchased my first copy as a medical student. Then I found it to be the best bet for finding accurate, readable and concise information about both common and obscure diseases. I still refer to it as a reference for diseases that I do not frequently encounter in my practice. Critics of the Manual often refer to its relatively infrequent updates and its attempt to be and "all in one" textbook for all medical specialties.

The Home Edition succeeds on many fronts. In keeping with the traditional approach of the Merck Manual for health care professionals, it is comprehensive and broad in scope. The 1,509 pages cover the gamut of human disease. From cancer to accidents and injury to mental health disorders its all here. This book benefits from the many years of experience that the editors have had publishing the professional edition. The organization and consistency of content is outstanding. It is well illustrated and well-conceived tables summarizing key points are abundant.

The cancer topics are informative and well written. Chapter 162: Causes and Risks of Cancer provides an understandable overview of issues of how cancer develops, risk factors and epidemiology. Chapter 164: Diagnosis of Cancer is a valuable overview of what is involved to diagnose several common forms of cancer. This concise chapter is an excellent starting point for someone who is currently going through a diagnostic work-up in search of a possible cancer.

The marketing hype on the back cover says: "Finally. A medical reference that isn't above your head or below your doctors standards." I must congratulate the editors of the Merck Manual Home Edition, because they have certainly achieved this goal.


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