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November 21, 1990

What Matters Magnesium?

Author Affiliations

Veterans Affairs Medical Center Danville, Ill

Veterans Affairs Medical Center Danville, Ill

JAMA. 1990;264(19):2501-2502. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450190031013

To the Editor.—  Whang and Ryder1 show that 53% of their serum samples had an abnormal magnesium level, most of them unsuspected clinically. However, they do not present sufficient evidence to justify their recommendation that "serum magnesium be included routinely when serum electrolyte measurements are required in the care of patients."To recommend that any such case finding or screening protocol be instituted (irrespective of the patient's symptoms), it is not sufficient merely to show that the condition in question is common. The authors have to show also that the condition is serious and treatable, and has an asymptomatic stage; furthermore, treatment in the asymptomatic phase must result in a therapeutic outcome superior to that obtained by delaying treatment until symptoms appear.2 The authors give no information on the clinical condition of the patients or their outcome. The study does not include any information regarding treatment of the