Send Feedback


Past Editions of the Blue Book

A brief history of the Blue Book


In the mid 1970s General Physicians at Christchurch Hospital were often criticised by their Specialty Physician colleagues over the way they treated acutely ill patients.

I thought that this was unreasonable since none of these Specialty Physicians had provided any written advice on how they thought such Patients should be treated. Guidelines were not common in those days and were often disparaged, and were thought to lead to a "cookbook" approach to medicine; patient in one hand and book in the other. If you knew your stuff you should know what to do!

In 1981 the Canterbury Association of Physicians agreed to start a weekly CME lunchtime meeting. I ran this for a number of years and we concentrated on case reports, updates and audit. It became a forum where Specialty and General Physicians could meet and educate each other, particularly in the management of common and acute medical conditions. Most of the audits revealed rather poor and inconsistent standards of medical care both in General Medicine and the Specialties.

It was agreed that each Specialty should produce guidelines for common acute medical disorders, such as stroke, pneumonia, heart attack etc, and that this should be collated into a book so that all Physicians and RMOs could refer to it. The aim was to assist in the management of acutely ill patients and thus raise the standard of medical care.

The first edition of the Blue Book was produced in 1983 and was immediately successful being well received by Physicians and RMOs, and it also became popular with medical students. From the second edition onwards it was reduced from A4 to A5 size so that it could be carried in the white coats that doctors wore in those days. All the subsequent editions of the book have sold widely throughout New Zealand. It inspired Auckland Hospital to purchase a copy and eventually it formed the basis for their own guideline book.

There have now been 15 editions, the 15th appearing in 2013. In 2001 the 9th edition was the first Blue Book to appear as a PDF file on the CDHB intranet. All subsequent editions have had paper, intranet and mobile versions. These fundamental changes to the Book required new expertise and leadership. John Thwaites became the editor in 2003, and Emma Harding of Streamliners took over the production process and introduced the web and mobile versions in that year.

Since its inception, the Blue Book has been underwritten by the CDHB and produced by the Department of Medicine. However many hospital specialists , registrars, and house surgeons from almost every hospital department, have made a huge contribution over the years to the quality and success of the Blue Book.

Mike Beard August 2013.

All editions are obsolete

PDF format

1st Edition 1983 [4.6 mb]

2nd Edition 1985 [4.6 mb]

3rd Edition 1987 [7.8 mb]

4th Edition 1990 [10.7 mb]

5th Edition 1994 [2.4 mb]

6th Edition 1996 [2.8 mb]

7th Edition 1998 [3.1 mb]

8th Edition 2000 [13.2 mb]

9th Edition 2001 [13.7 mb]

10th Edition 2003 [1.3 mb]

11th Edition 2005 [1.6 mb]

12th Edition 2007 [1.2 mb]

13th Edition 2009 [3.1 mb]

14th Edition 2011 [3.4 mb]

15th Edition 2013 [2.6 mb]


Online format

15th Edition expired 2015