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The BMJ Today: What is happening in US medicine?

20 Apr, 15 | by BMJ

9_11_emergency_workersEven though I was far away from New York City, I will always remember the 11 September 2001, as I was in medical school taking an exam that day. An article in research news reports that the emergency medical workers who arrived in the immediate aftermath of the World Trade Centre attacks were at greater risk for a number of chronic conditions compared with the workers who did not attend the aftermath of the attacks. For example, first responders were almost four times more likely to have reflux, seven times more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder, and twice as likely to have depression. more…

The BMJ Today: Candy Crush as pain relief, and doctors as carers and scientists

17 Apr, 15 | by BMJ

CANDY_CRUSH A news story reports on the intriguing case of a man who lost the use of his left thumb after playing the smartphone game Candy Crush all day for more than six weeks. The authors of the case report suggest that the stimulation of playing the game may explain why the man did not feel pain from his injury. Video games might, they suggest, have a potential role in pain management, and any pain reduction effect may be a reason why “some individuals play video games excessively, manifest addiction, or sustain injuries associated with video gaming.” more…

Clare Gerada: Can we trust pre-election promises on the NHS?

16 Apr, 15 | by BMJ

clare_geradaOnly a few weeks to go until the most unpredictable election in years and polls show that the NHS tops the list of voters concerns. Not surprisingly, politicians, of all persuasions are committing to promises about the service—details of extra funding and what they will offer patients in future. The Conservative manifesto, for example, pledges an extra £8 billion by 2020, same day appointments with GPs for those over 75, and an NHS leading the world in fighting the scourges of cancer and dementia—what’s not to like?

But those who have been paying attention may ask why should we trust politicians who have such a poor record on the NHS? more…

The BMJ Today: Promises, promises

16 Apr, 15 | by BMJ

election• It’s political parties’ manifestoes week, and The BMJ‘s reporter Gareth Iacobucci has summarised the promises made on the NHS, health, and social care of those that have been published, and outlined the public pledges made by the parties yet to officially announce their plans. There is much to take in, and useful headings allow for easy comparisons across the political spectrum. more…

The BMJ Today: Let’s ditch the posh sandwiches

14 Apr, 15 | by BMJ

education_money- In her latest column, Margaret McCartney looks at the relationship between big pharma and doctors’ postgraduate education. McCartney argues that it is better for doctors to ditch the free sandwiches and the swanky locations and pay for their own education. “Doctors all want to advocate for patients, to be trusted and relied on. But the independence that this requires comes at a price,” McCartney says. “We need to get doctors’ education under our control; there is no other option. We are going to have to start paying our own way.”  more…

The BMJ Today: Fluoxetine and Farage—publication and political bias

13 Apr, 15 | by BMJ

Today The BMJ publishes two examples of bias—one of publication bias and one of political bias.

Capsules of Prozac, an antidepressant drugMichael McCarthy reports on how researchers in the Netherlands have shown that the reporting of clinical trials on seven antidepressants was subject to publication bias.

The researchers, from the University Medical Centre Groningen, found there was a significant difference between trial outcomes sent to the FDA for marketing approval and the results published in scientific journals. more…

The BMJ Today: The role of facemasks, UK election watch, India health spending, and hearing your views

10 Apr, 15 | by BMJ

sota_face_masks• Our most recent State of the Art Review looks at the evidence for the role of facemasks in the prevention of infection in both community and healthcare settings.

A stunning interactive infographic explains which facemask the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend for seasonal flu, pandemic influenza, coronavirus, tuberculosis, and Ebola. more…

Food banks, clinical leadership, and losing touch

9 Apr, 15 | by BMJ

Analysis: With the economic crisis and austerity measures looking to be a key focus of the election debate, this analysis article released today is a timely reminder of the impact such measures might be having on population health and wellbeing. “The number of local authorities with food banks operated by the Trussell Trust, a non-governmental organisation that coordinates food banks across the UK, has risen from 29 in 2009-10 to 251 in 2013-14.”

food_banks_aResearchers from the Department of Sociology at Oxford University and LSHTM found that food banks were more likely to open in local authorities with higher unemployment rates—and that greater local authority and central government welfare cuts increased the likelihood of a food bank opening. They challenge frontline care professionals who are responsible for food bank referrals to “call for action on the root social and economic factors that trigger reliance on food banks,” rather than just accepting the situation. With one month to go until 7 May, now might be the time to act. more…

The BMJ Today: Thinking about common and not so common conditions

8 Apr, 15 | by BMJ

pityriasis• Pityriasis versicolor is a superficial fungal infection of the skin that is commonly seen in general practice. The latest practice pointer looks at its diagnosis, differential diagnosis, management, and prevention.

One particular aspect about its management is that first line treatment comprises shampoo containing either ketoconazole, selenium sulphide, or zinc pyrithione.

• Iron deficiency anaemia is another common condition seen in primary care. A news article reports that the influential United States Preventive Services Task Force considers there is not enough evidence to gauge the balance of benefits and harms of screening for iron deficiency anaemia in pregnant women and children aged between 6 months and 24 months. more…

The BMJ Today: Lucentis vs Avastin, teenagers with back pain, and a maternal blood test for Down’s syndrome

7 Apr, 15 | by BMJ

amdThe BMJ‘s investigation looking at why UK doctors have had difficulty prescribing the drug Avastin to treat wet age related macular degeneration rather than the more expensive Lucentis has provoked some interesting responses, including ones from Niall Dickson, chief executive of the General Medical Council, and Stephen JW Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

• In research news, a large multi-centre, prospective study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that taking a blood sample from women at 10 to 14 weeks of pregnancy and analysing cell-free foetal DNA for an extra chromosome is more effective than standard non-invasive screening tests in diagnosing Down’s syndrome. more…

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