BMJ 2004; 329 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.329.7459.240 (Published 22 July 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:240

Explaining the difference between bacterial and viral infections is a persistent problem, but there's now evidence that the two might not be quite as separate as once thought. A clinical trial involving more than 37 000 children has shown that use of the pneumococcal vaccine prevented 31% of pneumonias associated with any of seven respiratory viruses—raising the possibility that infant pneumococcal immunisation might reduce morbidity and deaths linked to influenza and other viral pneumonias in children and adults (Nature Medicine 2004; doi:10.1038/nm1077).

When the United States had a widespread energy blackout last August, many people with home medical devices got into a panic. A retrospective review of patients presenting to one emergency department with conditions related to medical device failure found that they accounted for almost a quarter of all patients admitted to the hospital during the interval of the study, and that those not admitted spent 15 hours on average in the department before going home (Academic Emergency Medicine 2004;11: 786-9).

While all that was going on across the Atlantic, Britain had an unusual heat wave. A two week study of the maximum temperatures recorded in a general practice's drug cupboards, and in drug bags placed in cars' luggage compartments …

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