Minerva

Tennis elbow and other stories . . .

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g2283 (Published 26 March 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2283

Five hospitals in southwest London cater for 15% of England’s children. A remarkable survey from these centres (Archives of Disease in Childhood 2014, doi:10.1136/archdischild-2013-305565) identifies a whole list of paradoxes. Admission rates are climbing, but serious bacterial infections are becoming rare, occurring in only 2.4% of children admitted to hospital for suspected infection. Two thirds of these children had pre-existing comorbidity. So although the UK still has a relatively high death rate from childhood infection, and both doctors and parents are more vigilant than ever, in absolute terms the risk of a child dying from infection has never been so small. The yield of serious infections confirmed by blood or cerebrospinal fluid culture in previously healthy children admitted to hospital was just 1.1%.

Minerva is impressed by surgeons who subject the mysteries of their craft to the cold light of scientific enquiry. But she thinks the world should be even more grateful to the patients who consent …

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