Book Reviews

Book Review: ACLS 2013 the ACLS Arrhythmia Pocket Brain Book

Book Description

The ACLS 2013 Pocket Brain Book ([amazon-product text=”Amazon link” type=”text”]1930553234[/amazon-product]) is a compact and information packed guide to ACLS arrhythmia assessment and treatment. It is a comprehensive, get to the point, review and synopsis that somehow finds time to include practice questions, clinical and bedside tips, and review of controversies. For example, in the opening chapter on V-Fib the lack of evidence for epinephrine administration is discussed.

Dr. Grauer, the author of this and more than 10 other books, has been teaching ECG interpretation for more than three decades. He is an active blogger, (, and regularly comments on ECG and prehospital medicine blogs and groups, like the Google+ ECG+ Group.

The Pocket Brain is literally a pocket size book. It is also available in a Kindle edition and I am intrigued to the degree which the pocket brain’s layout survives the digital publishing process.

Is there a need?

I am an admitted skeptic that pocket books, like this one, are necessary. But the prevalence of pocket guides and smartphone apps on prehospital ACLS assessment and care likely points to the inadequacy of AHA courses and teaching materials. Until AHA courses are more relevant and designed for the prehospital provider there will be a market for guidebooks that make ACLS relevant to the prehospital provider. After reviewing this Pocket Brain I am convinced of its value and look forward to reviewing others.

ACLS Algorithms

Each algorithm is reviewed in surprising detail, given the pocket size of the book. Each section is packed with information as it reviews the assessments, treatments, and medications. I am editing a 1 hour CE course on management of bradyarrhythmias.  Dr. Grauer is able to review the same content as that CE course in less than 20 pages, including diagrams!

Because of the density of information it was sometimes difficult for me to find the key points in a page packed with text. The author makes prodigious use of italics and bold and underline to help draw the reader’s attention.

How to Use the ACLS 2013 Pocket Brain Book

These are a few of my ideas on how to use the ACLS 2013 Pocket Brain Book:

1. Reference for ACLS questions posed by students. For me, Google often returns an overwhelming number of responses when I am seeking confirmation of an arrhythmia assessment or treatment question. I am going to use the Pocket Brain as a faster way to get to the facts about an arrhythmia assessment or treatment.

2. Self-study as you prepare for an ACLS renewal or protocol test. You might find it helpful to simply read the book cover-to-cover.

3. Consult during or after a patient call for just-in-time training or review of assessment and treatment procedures.

4. Occasional review of low occurrence and high anxiety acuity problems.

Have you read and used the ACLS Pocket Brain Book? How has it been useful to you? 

Note: I was given a copy of this book by the author and publisher in conjunction with the author’s sponsorship of an episode of the EMSEduCast, a podcast I co-host, at EMS World Expo in October 2012. I am grateful for both the book and the podcast episode sponsorship. 


By Greg

Elearning designer, writer, podcaster, blogger, presenter and paramedic. To relax I run and bike as far and as fast as I can. Also like to read a lot and fast.