* As Robert Mendelsohn once remarked, one grandmother is worth three pediatricians. According to new research, she may also be better than a hospital visit. A small British study has shown that children who have a grandmother involved in their care are less likely to end up being taken to accident and emergency wards with minor or trivial conditions (BMJ, 1998; 317: 1685) .
* Water softeners may be a significant source of dietary potassium a risk for those with kidney problems. A recent case study reports that potassium based water filters may deliver water with a potassium concentration of as much as 7mmol per litre. This compares unfavourably to well water or water from sodium based softeners which have no detectable potassium (N Eng J Med, 1998. 339: 1790).
* Tissue adhesives are as good as sutures for closing wounds. In a recent study, the wounds of 136 patients were examined intermittently up to a year after the injury. Doctors gave 73 per cent of those closed with glue the maximum score for cosmetic appearance, compared with 68 per cent of sutured wounds (Ann Emerg Med, 1998; 32: 645-9).