Intended for healthcare professionals



BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 28 October 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2263

Non-attendance at general practice and hospital outpatient appointments wastes time and money. Patients who miss appointments tend to be young and, when asked why they didn’t attend, give simple lapse of memory as the commonest reason. Texting reminders about appointments seems a sensible way of reducing non-attendance. Unfortunately, a controlled trial in an inner city general practice found that it made no difference (Quality and Safety in Health Care 2008;17:373-6, doi:10.1136/qshc.2006.020768).

They make up a substantial part of the workforce and the job they do is essential. Even so, the people who work as cleaners in homes, offices, and factories have low visibility. A focus group study finds that they are exposed to a variety of respiratory irritants because ammonia, ethanol, glutaraldehyde, alkalis, and surfactants are common constituents of cleaning solutions (Occupational Medicine 2008;58:458-63, doi:10.1093/occmed/kqn082). Few cleaners knew much about the hazards of cleaning agents or had any training in using them, and protective equipment was in short supply.

Ron Rivera was a Nicaraguan potter whose ingenuity brought clean drinking water to many people. …

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