While the profile of the subspecialty of Acute Medicine continues to rise, so does the burden of work under which we are continually placed. Changes in General Practice out-of-hours cover, reduced junior doctor hours, continued pressure to achieve four hour A&E wait targets along with the arrival of yet another winter will be familiar themes for many readers. There are times when it may seem difficult to stay positive in the face of such adversity. In these moments of despair, I have recently taken to reading our ward admissions list in search of light relief. This list, compiled by non-clinical staff, describes the problems which doctors referring patients to the AMU ascribe to their patients. ‘COPD Exasperation’ appears to be a common problem (not least amongst the junior medical staff), while I hope that the patient admitted with ‘aspirations of pneumonia’ wasn’t too disappointed by his final diagnosis. A patient with Wegener’s granulomatosis was admitted several times with ‘acute f lare-up of vagueness’, an aff liction with which many of us will be familiar. My favourite, however, remains the unfortunate patient described as ‘Bilateral amputee – off legs’; things clearly could not get much worse for this man!

If your own search for light relief leads you to browse through the following pages you will find more useful reviews, case reports and the second in our ‘Controversies in acute medicine’ series. This time Guha and Sheron tackle the issue of f luid resuscitation in chronic liver disease, an area which is frequently a source of considerable confusion. I have only ever treated one patient with thyroid storm, sadly without a favourable outcome; Ben Turner’s overview of the management of this rare condition will hopefully equip readers to deal with the consequences, should you ever be faced with such a problem. At the other end of the pulse-rate spectrum, bradyarrhythmias are a more familiar on-take emergency. In part one of a series of reviews on arrhythmias to be published over the next few editions, this subject is tackled in some detail. Diarrhoea and Cardiac Arrest have both been areas traditionally avoided by consultant physicians. In these days of the ‘hands-on’ consultant (preferably gloved!), I would urge colleagues to be prepared for such eventualities by taking note of our final two reviews.

I am pleased to report that my continued pleas for submissions has resulted in more than a trickle of case reports, which has enabled us to publish two ‘Cases to remember’ in this edition. More on a similar theme would be most welcome. Mike Jones, originally brought into the editorial board for his renal expertise, wears his hat as Secretary of the SAC in General Internal Medicine to give an insight into Training developments in Acute Medicine in Viewpoint. Submissions for this section would again be welcomed.

I hope you enjoy this edition, and that you continue to find the journal helpful in your everyday practice and personal CPD into the New Year.


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Conference Report: The Society for Acute Medicine Spring Meeting – April 22nd to 23rd 2004

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Cardiac Arrhythmias – Part I: Bradycardia

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