Introducing a New CONSULTANT Series

October 1, 2005

The Internet has made a wealth of medical information readily available, and study results and recommendations from government agencies and professional societies continue to be released at a dizzying pace. Critically dissecting the literature to separate the wheat--or what is clinically relevant--from the chaff is a herculean task.

The Internet has made a wealth of medical information readily available, and study results and recommendations from government agencies and professional societies continue to be released at a dizzying pace. Critically dissecting the literature to separate the wheat--or what is clinically relevant--from the chaff is a herculean task.

My new column, "Top Paper of the Month: Articles You Don't Want to Miss," which appears on page 1246 of this issue, focuses on studies that are particularly relevant to your day-to-day practice. The key criteria in selecting these papers are their simplicity--both in questions asked and answered--and the immediate impact of their results.

How is this column different from the traditional journal club? It cuts right to the take-home message for office-based practitioners. The column opens with a question that you are likely to ask, and this serves as a springboard for a discussion of the practical implications of the study results.

In the inaugural column, I discuss the results of a study by Lindenauer and colleagues,1 who looked at the effect of preoperative β-blocker therapy on in-hospital mortality in a cohort of more than 122,000 adults who underwent noncardiac surgery. The value of b-blockers in this setting continues to be debated. These researchers address the question of who should receive these agents--and when.

Topics of future columns include:

  • Safety of radioactive iodine for hyperthyroidism.
  • "Red flags" in patients with dyspepsia.
  • Newer treatments for breast cancer.
  • Therapy for venous thromboembolism.

My goal here is to make looking at the evidence relevant, applicable, and palatable--in a word, fun.

References:

REFERENCE:


1.

Lindenauer PK, Pekow P, Wang K, et al. Perioperative beta-blocker therapy and mortality after major noncardiac surgery.

N Engl J Med

. 2005;353:349-361.