In brief

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 08 May 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e3256

Earplugs reduce confusion in critical care patients: A randomised trial of 136 patients in intensive care has found that fitting them with earplugs at night halves the risk of confusion or delirium (hazard ratio 0.47 (95% confidence interval 0.27 to 0.82)). Of the patients who developed confusion, those who slept with earplugs became confused later than those who didn’t. And after the first night more of the patients with earplugs reported a better night’s sleep (Critical Care 2012;16:R73, doi:10.1186/cc11330).

Measles outbreak in Merseyside exceeds 200 cases: As at 1 May there had been more than 210 laboratory confirmed cases of measles in Liverpool and neighbouring areas, and a further 92 probable cases are under investigation, making the outbreak the largest on Merseyside since the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine was introduced in 1988, the Health Protection Agency has said. Half the cases are in children under 5 years. At least 39 of the patients with confirmed cases needed inpatient treatment in hospital. Doctors are urging vaccination.

Double screening interval for retinopathy in type 2 diabetes: Screening every two years for diabetic retinopathy in people with type 2 diabetes is just as safe as annual screening and can reduce costs by a quarter, a study has found (Diabetes Care doi:10.2337/dc11-2282). Using a model of simulated retinopathy progression, the researchers found that the proportion of patients who develop retinopathy related sight loss was no different after the two year screening intervals. The UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommends annual screening but admits that this frequency is arbitrary and has welcomed the research.

Extent of exploitation of workers in Asia is documented: The occupational health and safety effects of exploitative workplace conditions faced by Asian workers is documented in a report published by the Hong Kong based Asia Monitor Resource Centre ( It describes widespread dangerous work practices, poor legal protection, and under-reporting of workplace related sickness, injuries, and deaths in six Asian countries: Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand.

Repeat abortions are on rise in Portugal: In 2011 around 26% of women (5130 of 19 802) who had an abortion in Portugal had had at least one previous abortion, up from around 24.5% women in 2010 (4789 of 19 560), say reports by the Portuguese directorate general of health. About 2.3% of these women (464) had two abortions in 2011, up from 1.9% (362) in 2010. More unemployed women had an abortion in 2011 (19.4%) than in 2010 (17.3%).


Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e3256