Medical textbooks are an important aid in the process of
diagnosing and treating patients. Medical students use
these books to acquire the skills necessary for this process, while medical teachers and experienced doctors use them for teaching these competences. We posed the question whether medical textbooks are structured in such a way that medical students are taught to structure knowledge and to make a differential diagnosis in a logical way. Five major textbooks were compared with regard to four clinical problems (gastrointestinal bleeding, anaemia, oedema and heart failure). The presentation appeared to be very variable in respect of logic and systematic arrangement.
In fact, it was disappointing that even in well-reputed
textbooks, a systematic approach is lacking. We feel there is a need for improvement, in order to facilitate the learning of medical students and to enhance their abilities in clinical problem solving.