AMR deaths in Europe (part 2)

“33000 people die every year due to infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria” this is what ECDC released on Nov 6, 2018, on their website. “Superbugs kill 33,000 in Europe every year” said CNN and the same wording was used (in Dutch) by our Telegraaf. Naturally, the headings were based on the ECDC study published that day in Lancet ID, which happened to be the most downloaded paper ever of the journal. But was this really what was published? Valentijn Schweitzer and I got lost in translation when trying to answer that question. Continue reading

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No jab, no play; no jab, no pay

It may be the annual “cucumber time” or Trump-fatigue, but childhood vaccination is dominating Dutch news. The problem: the proportion of children being immunized against, for instance measles, is (slowly) declining and approaches the level that offers herd protection. That is a risk for children in the time window between passive protection by mothers’ IgG and active immunisation (at 14 months) and for persons that cannot be immunized for medical reasons. We were familiar with parents refusing immunization of their kids for religious reasons (because someone forgot to mention vaccination in the bible), but now non-religious and well-educated parents do the same. These “philosophic refusals” mostly decide to do so on information derived from internet. How can epidemiology help us to curb this problem? Continue reading

Santa’s little helper: engaging children to create information for patients

A cracker in the Christmas BMJ reports the insightful use of children to help create patient information leaflets. Whilst the article is tongue-in-cheek, in the spirit of the Christmas BMJ, there may just be something in it!

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Publish or perish

Our careers (at least partly) depend on our publications. The more, the better and to suit our needs we have a journal for any kind of publication. Sometimes, you read something and you may think “Hey, I have seen that before”. If the new study than confirms a previous finding, we apparently have a reproducible fact, which increases the likelihood that it is indeed true. Here is an example. Or not? Continue reading

On the effects of antibiotic stewardship: I met a analysis

Yet another meta-analysis telling us that we are doing something very valuable: antibiotic stewardship (AS). Nobody wants to (or should) question that good AS is important for our patients, just as hand hygiene, being sober when working and following the latest professional developments. How nice would it be if we could reliably quantify the effects of our good practice. One study is no study (say those that usually don’t perform studies), so the meta-analysis was invented. But what is told by a meta-analysis? Continue reading

The antibiotic course has had its day? (part 2)

British colleagues found no scientific evidence for “completing your course of antibiotics”. Nothing new, but in the absence of competing news (the White House has become a daily soap) they opened Pandoras’ box for the lay press, with patients being recommended to stop their antibiotics, whenever they want. The birth of yet another inconvenient truth, as we cannot translate our knowledge into daily medical practice, and patients get even more confused. The good news: a new research agenda. Continue reading

Sloppy science & good read

I’m packing for vacation. The book that I will NOT pack is: Rigor Mortis, how sloppy science creates worthless cures, crushes hope and wastes billions by Richard Harris. I read it already two times, and anyone interested in science, or trying to deliver a piece of it once in a while, should read it. It makes you realise what we do, what we publish and what we read. And then, it makes you humble (or sad, or furious, or happy). Continue reading