Short Cuts

Short cuts: What's new in the other general journals

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 15 September 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:597
  1. Alison Tonks (, associate editor

    Medical students are naive about drug companies

    A survey of more than 1000 medical students from across the United States has shown that they are a soft target for drug companies. Respondents from eight medical schools received an average of one gift or sponsored event each week. Almost all the students had eaten sponsored lunches and accepted pens or coffee mugs from drug representatives. More than four fifths (690/798, 86%) had also attended sponsored grand rounds, and about half had accepted gifts of textbooks. Four fifths of the students (all third years) believed that they were entitled to gifts from drug companies, and 69% (556/808) said that gifts and other direct marketing would not influence their practice.

    Credit: JAMA

    The authors say that the survey, with an overall response rate of 72%, shows that US medical students are not as sceptical as they should be about the marketing tactics of drug companies. Seven in 10 respondents believed that drug company materials were a good way to learn about new drugs, and nine in 10 described sponsored grand rounds as helpful and educational.

    On-call fatigue has similar effects to inebriation

    After three or four standard alcoholic drinks most adults become uninhibited and overconfident. Their attention wanders and their judgment becomes unreliable, along with their driving. A heavy on-call rota does much the same thing.

    US researchers paid 34 young paediatric residents $400 to complete a series of performance tests after four weeks of light on-call duty and after four weeks of heavy duty. The residents also did the same tests after enough vodka and tonic (with lime) to bring their blood alcohol concentrations to 0.04-0.05 mg/100 ml.

    Compared with light duties, the heavy rota (90 hours a week and one in four or five on-call) significantly reduced the residents' ability to drive a simulator and their performance in tests of vigilance and sustained attention. The …

    View Full Text

    Log in

    Log in through your institution


    * For online subscription