Grid Down Hospital: Part IV – Medical Books For Your Hospital Library


Flighterdoc sends:

Medical Books

Where to get these books

Obviously, if you have the interest and budget, the easiest place to get these is from Since you don’t need the latest editions of most of them, buying used books from Amazon, or from is perfectly adequate. You can also check Ebay, local bookstores (new or used) or most any other source. Public libraries probably won’t have a good collection of this level of medical books, and you can’t keep the books indefinitely. Some may be available as electronic books (legitimately or pirated). If you go this route then print them out. It may be much less expensive to just buy them, then pay for ink to print out a several hundred page book.

The time to get and study these books is before you need the knowledge in them. And since the quality of electronic versions can be spotty, plus electronic readers can fail, get the paper copies even though many of these textbooks (and others) are available

Medical textbooks are normally referred to by the primary authors’ name, and most of these books are listed that way. They are all listed with sufficient information that they can be identified on Amazon or whatever. Many are also available as illegal downloads, as well.

Generally, you don’t have to have the latest version of a medical textbook – but you don’t want one that is decades out of date, either.

Medical science does change, and things that were considered appropriate treatment even ten years ago are now known to be dangerous, or vice-versa, so try and use the most current books available and review several different books for a consensus for treatment.

Before you start

Medical Terminology

Chabner, Medical Terminology: A short course

Medicine has its own language, and words mean very specific things. You need to understand this language.

Medical Dictionary (Professional level). Any of the following dictionaries are fine, preference for one or another is purely personal.

Stedman’s Medical Dictionary
Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary
Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary

Laypersons level

Merriam-Websters Medical Dictionary

English Dictionary

Sometimes you have to get to basics to understand the topic.

Basic Medical Texts: Common textbooks used in current Medical School curriculums, and following a more or less typical progression of courses. These give you the fundamental knowledge to be able to effectively use the specialty books and pocket guides mentioned later.

Anatomy – How the body is put together in a general sense. Keep in mind that nobody is exactly like the pictures, there is no such thing as ‘normal’ when talking about people – just ‘normal range’.

Netter (Drawings of how the body is supposed to look)
Rohen (Photos of how embalmed bodies actually look. Live people, and unembalmbed bodies, don’t look at all like these pictures.)

Gray’s Anatomy – The various commemorative reprints of early editions are not only wrong, they are in some cases dangerous. Avoid them as a reference source and only use a modern version which can be hard to determine since the commemorative reprints have current print dates….it might be better to skip this one for the others.

Embryology (How the fetus develops) Included for completeness, not a lot you can do about the process.

Langmans’s Medical Embryology

Histology (The anatomy and purpose of individual types of cells) If you have access to a good microscope and various stains, you might be able to differentiate cells to good purpose. At the very least understand that the body is made of different kinds of cells, which have specific purposes.

Junqueira’s Basic Histology
Wheater’s Functional Histology: Atlas

Medical Research, Epidemiology and Biostatistics – Being able to interpret reports is critical – aside from the baseline knowledge there is a skill to reading and extracting information from the reports, and understanding what they say and what they don’t say and why. The short version is that popular media reports are usually 100% wrong, and even the executive summary of actual studies sometimes are partially wrong.

Riegelman, Studying the Study and Testing the Test
Clinical Biostatistics and Epidemiology Made Ridiculously Simple


Kaplan and Sadock’s Synopsis of Psychiatry

Biochemistry (What makes the different ‘machines’ in the body work. Understanding biochemistry and physiology is essential to understanding HOW to fix things, not just a checklist approach.)

Lippincott, Review of Biochemistry
Lehninger, Principles of Biochemistry

Physiology (how the different parts of the body are supposed to work)

Guyton and Hall, Physiology

These next two are only useful if you actually have the ability to monitor EKGs. An AED will NOT give you that capability.

Dubin, Rapid Interpretation of EKG’s
Garcia, 12-Lead ECG: The Art of Interpretation


While this is taught in med school, it’s probably useless grid-down (it’s not terribly useful now, except in understanding and explaining what has gone wrong). Genetics is a rapidly expanding field, however, and the technology is becoming more available.


Understanding microbiology allows one to determine what illness a person may have, and which of the many different antibiotics are appropriate (if any) to treat that illness.

Pathology: What goes wrong in how things work in the body

Robbins, Principals of Pathology (any edition after the 5th, and any version except the pocket book).
Goljan, Rapid Review Pathology

Neuroscience (How the brain and central nervous system is built). While working on the brain grid down is probably a losing proposition, understanding the nervous system, especially the spine, is useful.

Snell, Neuroanatomy
Haines, Neuroanatomy in Clinical Context


Katzung, Basic and Clinical Pharmacology
Pharmacology, Lippincott Illustrated Review

Clinical Skills, Physical Exam

Bates Guide to Physical Exam and History Taking: (Kind of basic, Barbara Bates was a nurse who wrote these books for nursing students, but a good intro). Get the big book, and then the pocket book as a memory aid.

Bates Videos: There are some truly boring videos that go with the Bates Guide. You can find them on Youtube.

Swartz, Textbook of Physical Diagnosis: History and Examination (better for PE)
DeGowin’s Diagnostic Examination (My personal favorite for PE)

Generally, STAY AWAY from the following:

The Dummies Series….your patients don’t need any dummies, and these books are just too basic.
Board Review Series (or similar) books – these are for cramming before medical board tests, and expect you to already have a grasp of the fundamentals. The “First Aid” series (First aid for the boards, First Aid for Surgery, etc) is also a book to stay away from unless you’re cramming for the medical boards.

Not quite Medical school level books that might be useful

These books are commonly community-college or EMT/Paramedic level training

Tortora, Principals of Anatomy and Physiology
Costanza, Physiology

Emergency Care and Transportation of the Sick and Injured – the classic book for training EMT basics
Prehospital Trauma Life Support

Medical Specialty Books

These are commonly used in the third and fourth year of medical school when students are exposed to the various specialties of medicine, and patients, and are also the basic books (there are many more) for each specialty.


Schwartz, Principals of Surgery
Skandalakis, Surgical Anatomy and Technique
Giddings, Surgical Knots and Suturing Techniques: While I generally don’t recommend laypeople suturing, this is a good primer on how to.

Internal Medicine

Harrison’s Internal Medicine
Kelley, Textbook of Internal Medicine

Family Medicine

Taylor Manual of Family Practice
Singleton Primary Care
Rakel, Textbook of Family Practice

Emergency Medicine

Rosen’s Emergency Medicine
Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine
Ma, Emergency Medicine Manual
Buttaraviolli, Minor Emergencies – Splinters to Fractures

Pediatrics (Kids are not just small adults)

The Harriet Lane Handbook of Pediatrics
Nelson, Textbook of Pediatrics

Obstetrics / Gynecology

Beckman, Obstetrics and Gynecology


McRae, Practical Fracture Treatment
Hull and Bacon, Introduction to Dislocations
Chapman, Orthopedic Surgery


Halestrap, Simple Dental Care for Rural Hospitals
Nara, How to become dentally self sufficient
Oxford Handbook of Dental Patient Care

Disaster Medicine

Koening, Disaster Medicine
Ciottone, Disaster Medicine
Antosia, Handbook of Bioterrorism and Disaster Medicine


The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Illustrated Manual of Ophthalmology
The Wills Eye Manual


Brown, Atlas of Regional Anesthesia
Anesthesia, Longnecker
Miller, Anesthesia

Frequently Handy Books

Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy– From the last 20 years or so

Gomella Scut Monkeys Guide

Tarascon Pharmacopia – Any edition from the last 5 years or so should be fine

Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy – Any edition from the last 5 years or so should be fine

Giddings and Giddings, Surgical Knots and Suturing Techniques, any edition is good

Trott, Wounds and Lacerations

Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook, 2nd Ed,

Physicians Desk Reference – one from the last 5 year or so should be fine, you can often get them for free from your physician or pharmacist. The pictures are most useful for identifying pills.

Book Series that may be useful; additional (not primary) sources:

Lippincots Illustrated Reviews Series

Medmaster Made Ridiculously Simple Series

The Washington Manual Series

The Oxford Medical Book Series

The Pocket Medicine Series

Current Diagnosis and Treatment Series

The 5-Minute Clinical Consult Series

The Ships Medical Chest and Medical Care at Sea

Auerbach, Wilderness Medicine and the Field Guide

Iserson, Improvised Medicine: Medical Care in Resource Poor Situations

Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook, 2nd Ed,

Ranger Medical Handbook

Special Forces Medical Handbook, ST31-91B This book is useful ONLY for the ideas on austere camp setups and veterinary medicine. The human medical information in it is of extremely poor quality, and consists mostly of war stories and old wives tales that were written down and put into a book. Be very careful with this one.

Buttaravoli, Minor Emergencies: Splinters to Fractures

Oxford Handbook: Acute Medicine

Oxford Handbook: Tropical Medicine

Oxford Handbook: Emergency Medicine

Coffee, Ditch Medicine

Issac, Wilderness and Rescue Medicine

Wilkerson, Medicine for Mountaineering

Flint’s Emergency Treatment & Management, 7th edition (out of print x 20 years, many around, the single best black bag book ever, covers camel bites – ‘Nair’ poisoning – and a million other things found nowhere else)

Medical Training and Education

There are a number of ways the layperson can get medical training. There is a sort of hierarchy to basic first aid training, usually named something like:
Standard First Aid – a one or two day class from the Red Cross
Advanced First Aid –
Emergency Medical Responder / First Responder
Emergency Medical Technician, I or Basic
Emergency Medical Technician, Advanced
Paramedic / Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic

Just because a person is an EMT-Advanced, or Paramedic, they don’t usually have any special authority when they are not actually on duty, and under the control of a medical doctor. Some states have scopes of practice for off-duty EMT’s…it pays to check out your local policies.

Wilderness Training

There are several wilderness first aid programs – such as Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness Advanced First Aid, Wilderness EMR, etc…

Except in Colorado, there is no actual official recognition of this level of training. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get it, on the contrary I recommend these sorts of classes to anyone who wants to learn more.

Wilderness first aid has to treat people with fewer resources, and fewer people, and often in difficult conditions (terrain, weather), and for longer periods. Unfortunately, the regular pre-hospital training programs all assume that more help (paramedics, hospital, etc) are nearby.

It is possible to get wilderness add-on ratings for existing EMR or EMT ratings, or take wilderness first aid classes. They usually take a few days more than a standard class, and involve a lot of practical field experience. From time to time other organizations (American Red Cross, Scouting USA, various wilderness adventure training programs) offer wilderness medical training. If they don’t provide certification from one of the following, I’d pass them by – you are investing some time and money in a course that may be quite good, or quite bad.

Wilderness Training Providers

Wilderness Medical Associates
National Outdoor Leadership Courses (NOLS)
SOLO Schools
From time to time other organizations may offer wilderness courses, if they are not certified to one of the above organizations standards I’d pass them by.

Online (Free) courses

Actual university (not really graduate) level courses in various medically related topics – free for the taking
Accessed 15 May 2015

Accessed 15 May 2015

Online Resources

These do not replace the knowledge above, they supplement it. Print the .pdf’s out while you can.

Ethicon Wound Closure:
Accessed 15 May 2015

Ethicon wound closure manual:
Accessed 15 May 2015

Stewart and Stewart, Austere Medical Sterilization
Accessed 1 Oct 2016

World Health Organization

Surgical Care at the District Hospital
Accessed 15 May 2015

Integrated Management for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care (IMEESC) toolkit
Accessed 15 May 2015

International Medical Guide for Ships: Including the Ship’s Medicine Chest
Accessed 15 May 2015

Basic Hospital Equipment
Accessed 16 May 2015

Global Help

Basics of Wound Care
Accessed 15 May 2015

Practical Plastic Surgery for Non Surgeons
Accessed 15 May 2015

And many others:

US Army Medical Department Borden Institute
Accessed 15 May 2015
Many different specialties, all free for the download.

Hesperian Health Guides
Accessed 15 May 2015

Home of Where there is no Doctor, Where there is no Dentist, and others geared strictly towards very basic laypeople

Epidemiology and prevention of vaccine-preventable disease
Accessed 15 May 2015

The Medical Aspects of Radiation Incidents Accessed 15 May 2015

FEMA / DHS publications:
These were written by AMR, the largest private ambulance company in the US…I’d recommend downloading them as soon as possible and then printing them out.

Available titles include (accessed 9 October 2016)















14 responses to “Grid Down Hospital: Part IV – Medical Books For Your Hospital Library

  1. Marlo Stanfield

    Sounds like this community needs to befriend Doctors and Nurses and CNAs. Specially those with grey hair and years of verifiable work. Take  a medical  professional to the range day. Granted these people may be for up for skeet shooting and maybe their handgun choices may run to SIG or Browning Hi Powers. You never know. I  think making friends in the medical community is easier than self help medical training.

    From: Western Rifle Shooters Association To: Sent: Monday, October 10, 2016 11:30 PM Subject: [New post] Grid Down Hospital: Part IV – Medical Books For Your Hospital Library #yiv4133605450 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv4133605450 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv4133605450 a.yiv4133605450primaryactionlink:link, #yiv4133605450 a.yiv4133605450primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv4133605450 a.yiv4133605450primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv4133605450 a.yiv4133605450primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv4133605450 | Concerned American posted: “Flighterdoc sends:Medical Books Where to get these booksObviously, if you have the interest and budget, the easiest place to get these is from Since you don’t need the latest editions of most of them, buying used books from Am” | |

  2. That is a very good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere.
    Short but very accurate info… Appreciate your sharing this one.
    A must read article!

  3. Thank you for this post. This is one of the main reasons I’m preparing to attend nursing school (2yr RN), my tribe has no medic.

  4. 1) Little if anything to quibble with the entire listing.
    2)Having 10 years inside the organization, including with a top-of-the-line wilderness med program cancelled with prejudice by American Red Cross (after it saved their collective bacon in the Northridge earthquake), skip them entirely.
    Get your CPR-BLS card and anything else from American Heart Association. The Red Cross will be the mugs staffing the FEMA camps, and poorly.
    The are administered (miserably) by full-time staff personnel near-universally too stupid to qualify for or get paying jobs in private enterprise, and supervising volunteers who outstrip them in dedication, knowledge, expertise, training, basic intelligence, salary, and every other way. The organization, top to bottom, is a refuge for those for whom mediocrity is their guiding light.
    Avoid it entirely if you have any choice in the matter. Period.
    3) The measure of someone is how much he agrees with you, in this case, the comments regarding the ubiquitous and awful ST 31-91B. Best use of it is probably to level table legs.
    4) I linked current online locations for a number of the listed texts (see the Linkapalooza thread, below), and a great number more, primarily but not entirely USMil manuals. While some of their content will have f***-all to do with anything folks will be doing grid-down for any reason, a lot of it will apply, and they tend to be ruthlessly practical, based on the experience of a few hundred thousand casualties in the last century in some absolutely godawful locales and conditions.
    5) The text list here is rather comprehensive. You aren’t going to bite it off in one gulp. Or even ten.
    Start where you are.
    Add knowledge, then skills. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    In rough order:
    First Aid.
    Fitness training.
    Medical/Dental/Nurse assistance.
    Medic: EMT, EMT-Wilderness, EMT-Paramedic.
    Preventative Medicine/Hygiene/Sanitation/Disaster care.
    Basic nursing care.
    General routine medical care.
    Minor emergencies.
    Advanced nursing care.
    Physician assistant/Nurse practitioner/Nurse anesthetist levels of care.
    Acute/critical medicine.
    Trauma medicine.
    Surgical skills.

    Think of those levels like karate belts. Work your way along, and go back and refresh knowledge, skills, and practical experience wherever possible. Then keep moving. Wherever you get to, you’re better off than never starting.
    Looking for experience? Go on a medical mission anywhere, for any length of time. You’ll learn more in 1 week in BFEgypt or Trashcanistan, even as a humble gopher, than you will in a year of reading internet articles or hard-copy textbooks. Go with an NGO, a short-term religious mission, whatever. Just go. For starters, you got more health education in middle school hygiene class than most people in the rest of the world get in their whole lives.

    Before you even start, get an updated physical exam. Then PT. Then more PT. Get your shots up to date. Then get all your teeth fixed.
    Pretty much exactly like the military handles things in boot camp since forever.

  5. Damn, that looks like an MD’s library. Embryology?

    If you had to cut the list to 5 or 6 for a 48yo engineer, what would be the most important?

    • My $0.02, most basic upwards:

      Where There Is No Doctor
      First Aid For Soldiers
      Emergency Care and Transportation Of The Sick & Injured
      Wilderness Medicine – Beyond First Aid – Forgey
      The Doom and Bloom Survival Medicine Handbook, Alton
      Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook, 2d Ed.

      Start there, and work your way up the mountain from that.

    • A medical dictionary
      SF Medical Operations
      Wilderness Medicine
      a good Anatomy/Physiology book (non-med school level)
      A pharm guide
      Isersons Improvised Medicine

  6. Pingback: WRSA Sends: The Grid Down Hospital/The Library – Mason Dixon Tactical

  7. Greetings Flighterdoc,
    Thank you for caring and sharing during these vital times
    of gearing up. Good to see that the info you and others are
    sharing is eventually accumulated into one section where all
    could be downloaded or printed best, and passed along.

    I would like to share the following in order to avoid excess
    “stuff” which would do harm and defeat the purpose of healing,
    including the caretakers:

    “Every man to his family and his belongings”

    PS Oh…would an Ozone Machine be good for cleaning?
    I have “cleaned” with one – With precautions of course.

  8. Thank you CA for posting this.