This review takes a look at Tarascon ePharmacopoeia from the viewpoint
of a seasoned critical care nurse and educator who is new to the
Palm-based computing platform.
The Tarascon pharmacopoeia is a free download that can be accessed
from Medscape, a medical website that can be accessed free of charge
once you complete a generic "member profile". The actual Tarascon
pharmacopoeia download can be accessed by pointing your browser
and following the link to "Tarascon ePharmacopoeia".
The Tarascon ePharmacopoeia website supplies the reader with an
overview of the Tarascon ePharmacopoeia program and two sample screens
as they would appear on your Palm device (Figure 1 and Figure 2).
Once you have reviewed this page, you can select one of two different
downloads: (1) "Download Tarascon ePharmacopoeia" or (2) "Download
Medscape Mobile". Medscape Mobile includes the Tarascon ePharmacopoeia
as well as access to Medscape Articles and a Medical Calculator.
The Tarascon ePharmacopoeia download is available for both Macintosh
and Windows. This is a Palm-based application only, and is not intended
for use on devices running Windows CE. The download is a quick and
straightforward process that is started by clicking on the appropriate
version. The installed file size is 1013K. System requirements are
clearly listed on the web page.
Installation can be completed within a few minutes.
Personally, I use the Palm IIIc. When I downloaded the Tarascon
Application, I saved it to the following file: C:\Palm\Add-on\TarasconSetup.exe.
Once in this folder, I selected the application "Tarascon Setup".
(You can not use WinZip to open this file as it was not a zipped
file), I was able to click "run" to begin the setup. The installation
instructions were very straightforward. The installation requires
you to select "next" through a short series of screens, then "finish".
Once finished, the screen prompts you to select a Palm to install
to. You then click "install" and are prompted to "Place your Palm
in its cradle and press the 'Hot Sync' button. This will install
Medscape Mobile in your Palm." The Hot Sync process was fairly quick
and went off without a glitch. However if you run into any trouble,
there is a "Download Help" link on the download web page.
I have always heard colleagues rave about the benefits
and ease of use of the paper version of the Tarascon Pharmacopoeia.
After using the Tarascon ePharmacopoeia program, I can see why.
The biggest benefit, of course, is that this program is free! In
addition, according to the website, the Tarascon ePharmacopoeia
is the "#1 selling portable drug reference, enabling you to locate
detailed information in seconds from a database of more than 3,000
brand and generic drugs."
The program itself is very user-friendly. The process of
looking up medications takes mere seconds. You can search
the drug database two ways: (1) by class or (2) by drug -
alphabetically. The classes of medications include: analgesics,
anesthesia, antimicrobials, cardiovascular, contrast media,
dermatology, endocrine, ENT, GI, hematology, immunology, neurology,
OB/GYN, oncology, ophth, psychiatry, pulmonary, toxicology,
and urology. Once a category is selected by "tapping" on a
class of drug, you must select a subclass of drug to further
narrow the search. Within the subclasses, drugs are listed
alphabetically. When searching alphabetically by drug name,
you can scroll through the alphabetical list or you can narrow
the search by entering as many letters of the drug name as
desired (using Graffiti writing or by tapping the keypad at
the "Lookup" prompt). Entering three letters is typically
sufficient to locate the drug you are searching for. Drugs
are listed by both brand name and generic name. This is an
extremely fast method of searching for accurate drug information
- which is critical in today's health care environment.
Once you select a drug, a plethora or information can be
found at the end of your stylus. This includes information
on therapy class and subclass, metabolism and excretion,
safety in pregnancy, safety in lactation, if the drug is
a DEA controlled substance, and relative cost. Other information,
of course, includes Adult and Pediatric dosing and prescribing
information, prescribable forms of the drug, warnings, and
additional notes (which includes some "nursing implications"
information). As an added benefit, you can also add personal
"notes" for each medication by tapping on the icon that
looks like a pad of paper and typing or Graffiti-writing
the information. As a critical care nurse, I was pleasantly
surprised that the dosing information for many of the drugs
included IV doses for emergent use as well as PO and other
administration doses for continued therapy. An example is
the beta-blocker Lopressor. This is not always the case,
however, and the user may have to enter information for
future reference in the clinical setting. An example is
Fentanyl, which can be given IVP but is only listed in the
Tarascon ePharmacopoeia as Duragesic Patches, Actiq, and
As an added benefit, you can add selected drugs to your "common"
use list - this is a separate tab on the main screen (Figure 1).
Last, but not least, Tarascon ePharmacopoeia includes a section
of "Tables", or additional reference information (Figure 1). The
reference information is listed alphabetically by class and subclass,
just like the drug information. For example, the class "General"
with the subclass "Cardiac protocols" includes cardiac protocols
(yes, the new AHA guidelines are incorporated). The class "Cardiac"
with the subclass "Cardiac parameters" includes a multitude of formulas
such as Cardiac Output and Mean Arterial Pressure as well as normal
values for Pulmonary Artery (PA) catheters. The class "General"
with the subclass "Formulas" includes such important formulas as
Anion Gap, Calculated Osmolality, and Golden Rules of Arterial Blood
Gases. There are too many useful formulas in this section to list.
The only downside is the fact that, because there is so much data
contained in this section, you will have to become rather familiar
with the contents and location of specific formulas in order to
quickly access needed information in an emergent clinical situation.
Perhaps the manufacturer might consider a way to add formulas to
a "common" or "favorite" list in the future.
The benefits of having quick access to comprehensive medication
information cannot be underestimated in the clinical setting. The
combination of the Palm platform and Tarascon ePharmacopoeia allows
the clinician to quickly and accurately access drug reference information
as well as common formulas used in the clinical setting. Unfortunately,
for those living outside of the United States, the Tarascon ePharmacopoeia
is not currently licensed outside of the United States. In addition,
I would prefer to have vital information such as clearly stated
mechanism of action, indications, contraindications, dosage (to
include all possible routes and doses), precautions, and complications/side
effects/drug interactions for each drug listed. On the plus side,
it is possible to enter this information in the "Notes" section
of the Tarascon ePharmacopoeia for each drug. This, however, could
prove to be quite time-consuming. Nevertheless, I did find the Tarascon
ePharmacopoeia to be a very helpful drug and table/formula reference
tool. I would encourage those of you considering a medication reference
software program to take a serious look a Tarascon ePharmocopoeia.
As a consumer myself, I would love to see a comparison review of
all medication reference software that is available for the Palm
Jacqueline C. Stocking,
RN, MSN, CEN, CFP, EMT-P
Editor's note: Jackie is a flight nurse in Austin TX. And been
flying since 1992. She 17 years experience in this field of work.
Jackie has also worked as a firefighter, paramedic, paramedic coordinator,
and a RN in the ER, Trauma Dept, Critical Care, Critical Care Ground
Transport, and Flight Nursing.
Jackie's areas of practice interest include education, research,
ED/trauma, critical care and flight nursing.