Alice Springs: Central Australian Rural Practitioners Association; 2003.
Dennis Pashen, Associate Professor and Director, Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health, Mount Isa, Qld

The new edition (fourth) of the CARPA Standard Treatment Manual provides a reference manual for remote Aboriginal health workers, nurses and doctors in the Northern Territory. It is part of a series of primary healthcare texts for the Northern Territory. The CARPA manual is a unique resource written for and especially valued by remote health staff in the Northern Territory, but it is also used by remote health service providers throughout Australia and overseas.

The manual provides simply worded, readable and easily referenced information. I accepted the challenge of my staff to find named topics for emergency information retrieval. In all instances it took me less than two minutes to find the information they wanted by using the index section.

The manual's Northern Territory roots are obvious with the choice of topics, simple diagrams and easily understood instructions and language. The applicability to Aboriginal Australia is also obvious with topics such as kava, sorry business, worms, hanging and spear injuries. In all situations the information is simple, to the point and relevant. The presentation is attractive, the manual's font size is 12 points or greater, a blessing for those of us whose arms have shortened with the years.

I have compared the CARPA manual with the Primary Clinical Care Manual (PCCM) from the Queensland Government and the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Queensland, and the manual of Médecins Sans Frontières. It certainly equals these excellent texts and is probably the most user-friendly manual. Each manual is designed for use in similar contexts but has its own specific idiosyncrasies, such as relationship to State legislation, RFDS medical chests and the Third World. The PCCM is more detailed (here read smaller font), more thorough and more legislative in approach, while the CARPA manual is more readable and more easily understood. It also provides some cultural cont ext in the assessment and application of management of conditions, such as depression, family domestic violence, and petrol and solvent sniffing. Readers from outside the Northern Territory should take into account their State legislative restrictions and State health clinical guidelines if they use the CARPA manual in their own local facilities.

In short, this is a highly readable and applicable manual which keeps things simple. I would recommend it and its accompanying manuals to remote health service staff and students of all disciplines; medical, nursing and indigenous health workers. It would also be useful for those interested in Aboriginal health, for example remote facility professionals, or people working in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health and Medical Services. Its previous editions have been standard texts in our Yacca Health Services Library in Mount Is a for some years and they have some of the highest borrowing rates. This edition will be no exception.