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Electricity, Safety, and the Patient

Nicholas G. Bircher, MD
JAMA. 1991;265(8):1034. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460080104045.
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This is a truly remarkable book. Not only does it make for enjoyable and informative reading, it makes otherwise tedious topics entertaining. The vigorous writing is complemented by thorough research on the part of the authors, amply reflected in the citation of references.

The first of 11 chapters, "Electricity, the Basics," concisely and completely reviews the pertinent concepts for medical readers. "Fundamentals of Electrical Safety" considers microshock and macroshock hazards and how to avoid them, particularly in the hospital setting. The chapter "Electronic Instrumentation" details the history of monitors and other electrical equipment in the hospital. "Cardiac Excitability" provides a thorough treatment of this topic, and the chapters on pacemakers and electrosurgery are useful references.

The real gem in this book is the incisive critique of the highly convoluted development of electrical safety standards. "The History and Epidemiology of Electrical Injuries in Hospitals" offers a rational perspective on the real


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