BMJ 1994; 308 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.308.6942.1518 (Published 04 June 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:1518

The best chance of curing a patient's peptic ulcer comes from eliminating persistent infection with Helicobacter pylori. The easiest and cheapest way of finding out whether a patient has helicobacter infection in his or her stomach is a urea breath test (Gut 1994;35:723-5). The test is simple and reliable, provided the patient has not taken (within the last month) bismuth or the antibiotics active against the infection.

Karen Quinlan was one of the first patients in a persistent vegetative state to make headline news as her parents asked the courts to be allowed to let her die. In fact after she was taken off her ventilator in 1976 she survived for another nine years. A report in the “New England Journal of Medicine” (1994;330:1469-75) describes the findings at necropsy. The most severe brain damage was in the thalamus, suggesting that that structure is critical for cognition and awareness but may be less essential for arousal.

One of the dangers of “natural” treatments is getting the wrong plant. Two brothers aged 23 and 39 who were foraging for wild ginseng in Maine collected some plants which looked right …

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