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Neonatal Formulary. Compiled by the Northern Neonatal Network. (Pp 199. £17.95 paperback.) BMJ Publishing Group, 1996. ISBN 0-7279-1030-2
There are probably as many different local sets of guidelines for drug dose and administration to newborn babies as there are neonatal units within the UK. This comprehensive book is an excellent pharmacopoeia developed by the Northern Neonatal Network, which should rapidly gain national acceptance.
The first section contains good practical advice for medical and nursing staff on storage, prescription, and administration of drugs, as well as the care of intravascular lines and the management and reporting of adverse reactions. The instructions on dilution and administration of intravenous drugs are very specific. The advice is well written, clear, and concise.
The second section has alphabetically sequenced monographs of drugs commonly used in labour and during the neonatal period. It also contains information on orphan drugs that are not included in theBritish National Formulary. Each drug has a readable section on its use and pharmacology as well as doses and mode of administration. Often, sick babies will have several concurrent drug infusions and the information on compatibility with other drugs and fluids is very useful. Management of toxicity, with details of appropriate antidotes, is discussed, and treatment of extravasation injuries is well covered. For some of the less commonly used drugs, where the measurement of concentrations may be necessary, the addresses and telephone numbers of laboratories able to provide this service are supplied. Information on several blood products and vaccines has also been included. Details of the supply and preparation of drugs available in the northern region may not always apply to other regions, however, but the price of drugs, as given in the British National Formulary, are also provided.
The final section contains notes on drugs prescribed to mothers during labour, or in the puerperium that may affect the fetus or appear in breast milk.
The text is well referenced throughout, and there are clear cross references between monographs. I have already found the manual useful in clinical practice, and feedback from nursing staff suggests that this book provides good practical advice for neonatal nurses, particularly those who are new to the specialty.