Annals of Internal Medicine tip sheet for July 19, 2005

Annals of Internal Medicine is published by the American College of Physicians. These highlights are not intended to substitute for articles as sources of information.

1. Many Still Take Vitamin E, Even Though It May Be Ineffective or Harmful

A large national survey shows that 12 percent of U.S. adults (24 million people) consumed high doses (400 IU per day or more) of vitamin E supplements in 1999-2000 (Brief Communications, p. 116).

Researchers refer to several recent clinical trials that show that high doses of vitamin E are associated with increased risk for premature death.

Editorial writers point to other recent studies that show that high doses of vitamin E do not prevent or lower risk for heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) (Editorial, p. 143). Based on this research, they say that, at this time, "people should avoid this vitamin at high dosages."

2. Test Results Pending After Hospital Discharge Often Languish

A study of hospitalist services at two hospitals found that about 41 percent of 2,644 discharged patients had pending laboratory and radiologic test results and that 191 (nine percent) of these results indicated urgent clinical action, such as starting or changing antibiotic therapy (Improving Patient Care, p. 121).

Of 105 hospital physicians who responded to a survey about the actionable results, 65 were unaware of the results and 31 were unaware that the tests had been ordered.

Researchers say that despite the small numbers in the study, results suggest a need for a highly reliable system of ensuring follow-up of hospital test results.

3. Medicare Would Save Money and Improve Care by Paying Full Cost of ACE Inhibitors for People with Diabetes

Medicare would save money and improve health outcomes by providing full coverage of ACE inhibitors for people with diabetes, a new cost effectiveness s

Contact: Susan Anderson
American College of Physicians

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