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BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 10 January 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:160

In this era of evidence based medicine, surgeons are urged to conduct randomised trials of new operations rather than rely on anecdotal reports. In the case of minimally invasive direct coronary artery bypass, says an editorial in Heart (1997;78:533-4), such a trial should be delayed until the participating surgeons have completed their climb up the learning curve—and until a clearer consensus has emerged on the optimum surgical technique.

Mary Poppins's advice that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down is unpopular among dentists, who complain that the sugar in children's medicines is just as harmful to the teeth as the sugar in sweets. Some qualitative research (British Journal of General Practice 1997;47:823-4) asked parents for their views. Most left the decision whether to prescribe a sugar free medicine to the doctor, but a few mothers of children receiving long term treatment were prepared to be more assertive.

Australians are becoming concerned about a potential plague of European wasps, introduced to the country in 1977. A letter in the Medical Journal of Australia (1997;167:650-1) warns that these insects are dangerous because they have toxic venom, multi-stinging capacity, and aggressiveness on their side, and wasp stings are now a frequent cause of inquiries to poison centres. Politicians are developing a national European wasp strategy.

A retrospective study of 593 Dutch …

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