* Surgeons should stick to what they know best. General surgeons and urologists in one hospital managed to reach a diagnosis in patients without taking a sexual history, took inappropriate specimens for analysis and prescribed the wrong antibiotics. The authors of the report all surgeons urged their colleagues to leave the management of sexually transmitted diseases to the experts (Ann Royal Coll Surgeons, 1998; 80: 356-8).

* Not surprisingly, lack of sleep causes surgeons to make errors. Sleepy surgeons tested on a laparoscopy simulator made 20 per cent more errors and took 14 per cent longer to complete the tasks than those who had a full night's sleep (Lancet, 1998; 352: 1191).

* Prescribing antibiotics to children with upper respiratory tract infections is a waste of time and money, according to a meta analysis of 12 randomised controlled trials (Arch Dis Child, 1998; 79: 225-30).