By: Cynthia Francis Bechtel, MS, RN, CEN, EMT-I
Cindy has been employed by MassBay
Community College, Framingham, MA since 1993. A
professor, she teaches in both the Nursing and Paramedicine
programs. She received her Master's Degree in Nursing
Administration from Regis
College, Weston, MA in 1998. She is currently enrolled
in the PhD program at University
of Massachusetts Worcester Graduate School of Nursing.
In her spare time she is a pre-hospital emergency care
provider with the Southborough
Fire Department as well as a member of the Southborough
Emergency Management Planning Board and the Northborough-Southborough
Critical Incident Stress Management Team. Cindy is never
without her Palm m515 and uses it constantly for her
own knowledge and organization and also to assist her
I dont know about you, but my PDA never leaves my side
and the application I use most frequently is my drug guide. Whether
I am in the hospital, in the field, answering students questions,
or getting phone calls from neighbors and relatives, an up-to-date
drug guide is an invaluable tool for any healthcare professional.
RnNDH is a PDA program based on the print version on Nursing
2004 Drug Handbook from Lippincott
Williams & Wilkins (LWW). We all certainly have come to
know and respect the Nursing Drug Handbook.
Installation and Memory Requirements
RnNDH is another program available in the Skyscape
format for the Palm
OS and the Pocket
PC. I found it very easy to load this application onto my
Palm m515. As with other Skyscape products, the program loads
without much effort or thinking on my part. This is so important
for those of us who are novices. Part of the program automatically
loads to my memory card, saving much needed space on my Palm.
Skyscape lists the RnNDH as needing 3.8MB on the Palm. When I
checked info on my Palm it said the application on the Handheld
was 204K with the balance of the 3.8MB residing on the expansion
card. The Pocket PC requires 8.1MB.
Ease of Use & Navigation
RnNDH has three indices: Main index which has generic names and
medical conditions listed; Trade names index; and a Table of Contents.
Once you have chosen a drug from either the main index or the
trade name index you will be able to get information on that drug
in the following categories:
I liked the category of Effect on lab test results, which I had
not seen in another drug program. The Classification category
identifies the chapter in the textbook which would be helpful
to students who are using that text in their pharmacology course.
What I found unique about RnNDH were the interesting appendices.
The Herbal medicines category is certainly necessary in todays
healthcare environment. Under each herb is information on the
other names, its uses, nursing considerations and teaching. There
is an infusion rate appendix which identifies infusion rates for
emergency drugs such as nitroglycerine and dopamine in addition
to others. Other appendices include Therapeutic drug monitoring;
Selected local and topical anesthetics; Diagnostic skin tests;
Selected drugs used for conscious sedation; Normal laboratory
test values; Dialyzable drugs; and Drugs that shouldnt be
Skyscape Product Intereface (Palm OS)
RnNDH (Nursing Drug Handbook)
I also liked the color and font coding under adverse
reactions as seen above. The life threatening, uncommon and common
reactions are easily identified, making it easier to interpret
when so many drugs seem to have a never-ending list of adverse
With Skyscape's patented smARTlink technology, RnNDH also allows
me to link with other Skyscape products when researching a topic.
For example, if I look up the drug prednisone and see that it
is given for asthma, I can then link to other programs I have
installed like Taber's
(Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary) and RNDiseases
(Diseases and Disorders: A Nursing Therapeutics Manual) and
get additional information on asthma. I can effortlessly change
back and forth between applications with the Skyscape technology.
I would suggest changing the indices for this program. I would
like to see a main index that only deals with the drugs rather
than including diseases. And, I would like to see trade and generic
drugs in the same index. I find it cumbersome to have to decide
if this is the trade name or the generic name and then choose
the appropriate index. For beginning nursing students this would
be a problem, since they may not know if the name was generic
or trade. These indices have slowed down my research for drugs.
I never was able to find the recommended use and dosage for epinephrine
in a cardiac arrest.
The program is selling for $44.95 which certainly makes it competitive
with other drug handbooks which are selling for $41.95-$49.95.
The cost of the program also includes a year of quarterly updates,
certainly an important selling point with pharmacology changing
so rapidly. The nurses I work with always know to look for me
when they cant find a new drug in their text. I can always
find it in my PDA. The textbook upon which this program is based
sells for $37.95. I continue to believe that programs should be
the same price as the books.
Summary and Recommendation
A drug program is the first program any nurse should purchase
upon buying a PDA. RnNDH is a good choice for that drug program
and with some changes could be a great program.
Cindy can be reach via e-mail
RnNDH (Nursing Drug Handbook) for the Palm
OS and the Pocket