March 2, 2004, Annals of Internal Medicine tip sheet

March 01, 2004

Antibacterial Products Don't Reduce Symptoms of Infections, New Study Finds
Using antibacterial products, such as soaps, household cleaners and laundry detergents, does not reduce the risk for infectious disease symptoms in households of healthy individuals, a new study finds (Article, p. 321). Researchers studied 224 urban households in which one group was given household cleaning and personal hygiene products that contained antibacterial ingredients and the second was given identical-looking products that did not have antibacterial ingredients. The investigators asked about infectious disease symptoms such as fever, cough, diarrhea and vomiting and found no significant difference in the frequency of these symptoms between those who used antibacterial products and those who used the plain products. Editorial writers say that the best ways to prevent the spread of infections that are transmitted through direct and indirect contact and airborne means are to cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and to wash hands frequently (Editorial, p. 397). (NOTE: This article is the subject of a video news release. Call for a copy of the script. The VNR will feed Monday, March 1, 2004, at 0900-0930 A.M. EST and 1400-1430 P.M. EST on Telstar 6, Transponder 11[C], Downlink Freq: 3920 V.)

U.S. Group Does Not Recommend for or Against Screening for Family Violence
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has issued updated recommendations on routine screening for physical abuse, neglect of children, intimate partner violence and elder abuse (Clinical Guidelines, p. 382). The Task Force found the published evidence insufficient to show that such screenings lead to decreased disability or premature death, and it says that no studies address the harms of screening and interventions for family and intimate partner violence. As a result, the Task Force could not determine the balance between the benefits and harms of screening for family violence. Despite finding insufficient evidence, the Task Force notes that all clinicians should be alert to physical and behavioral signs and symptoms of abuse or neglect and take proper measures. An editorial writer says that despite lack of proof that interventions work, the medical profession, which seeks "to meld science and art in the service of humanity," should remain vigilant and look and listen carefully for family and intimate partner violence among children, women or older adults (Editorial, p. 399).
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Annals of Internal Medicine is published by the American College of Physicians, an organization of more than 115,000 internal medicine physicians and medical students. These highlights are not intended to substitute for articles as sources of information. For an embargoed fax of an article, call 1-800-523-1546, ext. 2656, or 215-351-2656.

American College of Physicians

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