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This Week in JAMA
February 26, 2003

This Week in JAMA

JAMA. 2003;289(8):947. doi:10.1001/jama.289.8.947
Underage and Adult Excessive Drinking

In this analysis using data on alcohol consumption from several national data sets from 1999, Foster and colleaguesArticle estimated that underage (12- to 20-year-old) drinkers consumed 19.7% of the total number of alcoholic drinks consumed per month. The amount of alcohol consumed by adult excessive (>2 drinks per day) drinkers that was in excess of 2 drinks per day was 30.4%. Consumer expenditures on alcohol in the United States in 1999 was $116.2 billion, of which $22.5 billion was attributed to underage drinking and $34.4 billion to adult consumption in excess of 2 drinks per day. In an editorial, Hanson and LiArticle emphasize the importance of strategies to prevent alcohol abuse and reduce underage drinking, including interventions by primary care practitioners.

Quality Improvement and Race and Sex Disparities

SehgalArticle analyzed data from a national Medicare-funded quality improvement project among adult hemodialysis patients to determine whether successful quality improvement efforts that do not specifically target race or sex have a beneficial effect on race and sex disparities in health outcomes. The proportion of patients that achieved an adequate hemodialysis dose increased from 43% in 1993 to 86% in 2000. The gap between white and black patients and between female and male patients decreased significantly over this period. Race and sex disparities in anemia management and nutritional status did not change significantly. In an editorial, Felix Aaron and ClancyArticle discuss initiatives to improve quality and reduce race and sex disparities.

Attitudes About Disclosure of Medical Errors

An important component of the response to medical errors is disclosure of errors to patients, but little is known about how patients and physicians think medical errors should be discussed. In this qualitative analysis of transcripts from a series of 13 focus groups that included 6 groups of adult patients, 4 groups of academic and community physicians, and 3 groups of patients and physicians, Gallagher and colleagues found that patients and physicians had notably different perspectives on what information should be disclosed about medical errors. Both patients and physicians expressed unmet needs following harmful medical errors.

Maternal Immunity and Congenital CMV Infection

Development of a vaccine has been proposed for prevention of congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection, but the ability of maternal immunity to prevent transplacental transmission of CMV is uncertain. In this cohort study of multiparous women whose prior immune status to CMV was determined from cord serum specimens obtained from a previous delivery, Fowler and colleagues found that the rate of congenital CMV infection among infants born to women who were CMV seropositive at the time of the previous delivery was much lower than that among initially CMV seronegative women. Preconception maternal immunity and maternal age of 25 years or older were significantly associated with decreased risk of congenital CMV infection.

BCG Vaccine and Risk of Atopy

Childhood exposure to BCG vaccine has been suggested to have a protective effect against development of allergic diseases, but the evidence is inconsistent. Krause and colleagues compared the prevalence of atopy, as determined by assays for specific IgE against common inhalant allergens, among children aged 8 to 16 years in Greenland who received BCG vaccine with the prevalence of atopy among children who did not receive the vaccine. The risk of atopy among children who received BCG vaccine was not significantly different from that among children who did not receive BCG vaccine. Among children who received BCG vaccine, age at vaccination was not associated with risk of atopy.

A Piece of My Mind

"I feel sad for the parents of this baby. Watching them over the last few weeks, I have grown fond of them, even without really knowing them." From "The Cross-Cover Resident."

Contempo Updates

Transfusion-transmitted infections: current and emerging risks.

Medical News & Perspectives

The use of testosterone replacement products is prompting concern among researchers who say data on long-term safety are lacking. At a recent meeting, experts proposed launching a large clinical trial to sort out potential benefits and adverse effects.


Mr V, a 57-year-old man, has severe osteoarthritis of his left knee, but continues to be an active long-distance cyclist. Lonner discusses the epidemiology, natural history, causes, and diagnosis of knee osteoarthritis and nonsurgical and surgical treatment options.

JAMA Patient Page

For your patients: Information about osteoarthritis of the knee.