In Brief

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 02 November 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1100

Research trial in babies halted: A pilot study into asphyxia at birth has been stopped after it was discovered that half the babies had been given double the intended dose of magnesium sulphate. The trial, which was taking place in eight countries was stopped when two babies developed complications; one later died. It seems that the babies were given the concentrated form of magnesium sulphate rather than the hydrated form. An independent review is to be carried out.

New York City sues tobacco companies: New York City hopes to recover the millions of dollars spent annually caring for patients with tobacco related illnesses. A recent study by the Columbia University School of Public Health estimated that smoking related illnesses cost the city an estimated $300m in Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance premiums. Seventeen states and a dozen localities in the US have filed similar lawsuits.

South Africa calls for declaration on medical migration: The deputy president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, called on the World Medical Association to develop an international declaration on medical migration. At the association's annual conference in Cape Town he criticised the aggressive recruiting campaigns by organisations in wealthy countries, which has resulted in a number of doctors leaving South Africa.

Cost cutting should avoid quick fixes: An Audit Commission report says that there is scope for NHS organisations to reduce their management costs but that they should avoid quick fixes, which could affect the quality of services. The report, Form Follows Function, also gives examples of organisations that have restructured successfully and has a checklist of questions for all organisations to consider when reviewing their management structure.

Smoking may aid concentration: American researchers report that nicotine can enhance the memory by boosting the transmission of nerve impulses in the hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in learning and memory (Nature 1996;383:713-6). The research, which was partly funded by a tobacco lobby group, shows that nicotine can induce sufficient calcium influx into the hippocampal neurones to trigger neurotransmitter release.

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