This year, medical media has been dominated by reporting on the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. Many studies and analyses have shown that staying at home, social distancing, quarantining of close contacts, and wearing face masks and face shields are effective ways of preventing spread.
Although initially there were no known effective treatments for severe COVID-19 infection (other than oxygen and ventilator support), we now know that dexamethasone,1 remdesivir,2 and convalescent plasma3 are effective in lessening the severity of illness and perhaps preventing death. That said, we will continue to struggle with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future.
But other medical illnesses actually predominate in terms of morbidity and mortality, even during this pandemic. For example, although there has been an average of roughly 5600 COVID-19-related deaths per week for the past 4 months,4 there are, on average, more than 54,000 deaths per week in the United States from other causes.5 This means that we must continue to tend to the other health care needs of our patients even as we deal with COVID-19.
In that light, JFP continues to publish practical, evidence-based clinical reviews designed to keep family physicians and other primary health care clinicians up to date on a variety of topics. For instance, in this issue of JFP, we have articles on:
- Opioid prescribing. Although opioids have risks, they remain potent medications for relief from acute pain, as well as cancer-related pain and chronic pain not sufficiently treated with other medications. Mahvan et al provide expert advice on maximizing benefit and minimizing the risks of opioid prescribing.
- Secondary ischemic stroke prevention. For patients who have suffered a transient ischemic attack or minor stroke, a mainstay of prevention is antiplatelet therapy. Aspirin alone used to be the treatment of choice, but research has demonstrated the value of adding another antiplatelet agent. Helmer et al’s thorough review reminds us that the antiplatelet drug of choice, in addition to aspirin, is clopidogrel, which should be used only for the first 30 days after the event because of an increased bleeding risk.
- Combatting Clostridioides difficile infection. CDI has been a difficult condition to treat, especially in high-risk patients. Zukauckas et al provide a comprehensive review of diagnosis and management. Vancomycin is now the drug of choice, and fecal transplant is highly effective in preventing recurrent CDI.
This diverse range of timely, practical, evidence-based guidance—in addition to coverage of COVID-19 and other rapidly emerging medical news stories—can all be found on our Web site at www.mdedge.com/familymedicine. We remain committed to supplying you with all of the information you need to provide your patients with the very best care—no matter what brings them in to see you.