The Practitioner

The Practitioner is a PubMed indexed journal, primarily aimed at GPs, with subscribers throughout the World. It is also used by doctors preparing for work in the UK. 

All articles in The Practitioner online include CPD fillable PDF frameworks for personal reflection on learning and drafting of plans that will have an impact on practice. Preset search links to PubMed and NICE Evidence are associated with most major articles.


Symposium: Paediatrics

Early intervention crucial in anxiety disorders in children

23 Jun 2016Paid-up subscribers

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health disorders of childhood. Three quarters of anxiety disorders have their origins in childhood, with presentation often chronic in nature. Where the child is experiencing significant distress or functional impairment (e.g. missing school, not taking part in age-appropriate activity), then specialist input is likely to be needed.

Optimising the management of wheeze in preschool children

23 Jun 2016Paid-up subscribers

One third of all preschool children will have an episode of wheeze and many of these present to primary care. Most will fall within a spectrum of diagnosis ranging from episodic viral wheeze to multiple trigger wheeze or early onset asthma. The child should be referred to hospital immediately if you suspect an inhaled foreign body or anaphylaxis (after administering IM adrenaline). NICE recommends immediate referral for children with wheeze and high-risk features and also those with intermediate-risk features failing to respond to bronchodilator therapy.


Special reports

Erectile dysfunction heralds onset of cardiovascular disease

23 Jun 2016

Erectile dysfunction (ED) has been shown to share risk factors with cardiovascular disease including age, diabetes mellitus, smoking, hypertension and hypercholesterolaemia, suggesting an underlying vascular pathology. Evidence reveals that there is a potential link between ED and subsequent development of coronary artery disease. ED itself may also increase cardiovascular risk. As ED often predates the development of coronary artery disease this provides GPs with a valuable window of opportunity for risk assessment, subsequent primary prevention and early referral to a cardiologist.

Managing patients with hidradenitis suppurativa

23 May 2016Paid-up subscribers

Hidradenitis suppurativa affects the apocrine-bearing areas of the skin. The onset is variable but usually occurs in the second and third decades of life, coinciding with development of the apocrine glands. The condition is characterised by painful, inflammatory papules and nodules which frequently progress to form abscesses, sinus tracts and hypertrophic scars.The most important non-genetic factors implicated in hidradenitis suppurativa are obesity and smoking.



Sun damage 2016

23 Jun 2016Registered users

 • Squamous cell carcinoma • Actinic keratosis horn • Bowen’s disease • Solar elastosis • Rosacea • Discoid lupus


Clinical Reviews

New electronic screening tool aids detection of FH

23 Jun 2016Registered users

TARB-Ex, a new electronic screening tool, appears to be an efficient and cost-effective method for detecting patients at risk of familial hypercholesterolaemia, a study from Western Australia has found.

Atypical glandular cells on screening raise cervical cancer risk

23 Jun 2016Registered users

Atypical glandular cell change detected by cytological screening is associated with a high and persistent risk of cervical cancer, particularly adenocarcinoma, a Swedish longitudinal study has shown.



Improving the detection and management of type 1 diabetes

25 Jan 2016Paid-up subscribers

Type 1 diabetes affects around 370,000 adults in the UK, about 10% of all those diagnosed with diabetes. In type 1 diabetes there is a lack of beta cell insulin secretion as a result of autoimmune destruction of the beta cells. However, patients are not affected by insulin resistance, and so do not routinely experience the features of metabolic syndrome that occur in type 2 diabetes. It is therefore important to classify the type of diabetes correctly and to recognise that type 1 diabetes is a condition with its own management requirements. Structured education is the cornerstone of care providing tools to allow effective self-management.

Improving outcomes in diabetes in pregnancy

21 May 2015Paid-up subscribers

One in 250 pregnancies in the UK involves diabetes. The majority of cases (87.5%) are gestational diabetes, 7.5% are type 1 and 5% are type 2 diabetes. Diabetes in pregnancy is associated with a five fold increase in risk of stillbirth and a two-fold increased risk of congenital defects compared with the general maternity population. Women with gestational diabetes have a significant lifetime risk of developing type 2 diabetes, hence diabetes screening must be undertaken on an annual basis in primary care.



Diagnosing and treating diverticular disease

24 Sep 2015Paid-up subscribers

It is important to distinguish between diverticulosis, the presence of asymptomatic diverticula, and diverticular disease which refers to symptomatic cases which can present with acute or chronic symptoms. Diverticular disease can be confirmed radiologically or endoscopically. Even in patients with established diverticulosis, a change in the clinical picture with development of red flag symptoms warrants urgent referral to rule out lower gastrointestinal malignancy.

Diagnosis and treatment of gallstone disease

22 Jun 2015Registered users

Gallstone disease increases with age. Women have a higher prevalence of gallstones than men, which is attributed to exposure to oestrogen and progesterone. Liver function tests and an abdominal ultrasound should be offered to patients with symptoms suggestive of gallstone disease (e.g. abdominal pain, jaundice, fever). They should also be considered in patients with less typical but chronic abdominal or gastrointestinal symptoms.


Painful conditions

Evaluating the patient with low back pain

22 Dec 2015Registered users

In the UK, low back pain is the most common cause of disability in young adults and every year 6-9% of adults consult their GP about back pain. A thorough history and examination is required to exclude an alternative diagnosis, such as pain arising from the hip or trochanteric bursa and to categorise patients as having: serious spinal pathology, nerve root/radicular pain or non-specific back pain. [With pre-set searches of the evidence base]

Diagnosing shoulder pain

01 Jan 2009Paid-up subscribers

The prevalence of shoulder disorders has been reported to range from 7 to 36% of the population accounting for 1.2% of all GP consultations. Shoulder pain has been said to be the second most common musculoskeletal complaint presenting in primary care. On average GPs are consulted approximately seven times each week for a complaint relating to the neck or upper extremity; three of these consultations will be for new complaints or new episodes. [With external links to the evidence base]


Respiratory medicine

Improving the diagnosis and management of COPD

25 Nov 2015Paid-up subscribers

COPD is a progressive condition. Therefore, earlier diagnosis allows earlier intervention in particular smoking cessation. Spirometry should be performed in symptomatic current or former smokers (typically = 10 pack years) who are aged at least 35 where COPD is a likely differential diagnosis.

Optimising the management of patients with difficult asthma

25 Nov 2015Registered users

Between 5 and 10% of asthma (depending on the definition used) is categorised as difficult asthma, a term which generally refers to patients who continue to experience symptoms and frequent exacerbations despite the prescription of high-dose asthma therapy. Difficult asthma is an indication for specialist review by an appropriate respiratory physician, but close liaison between primary, secondary and tertiary care is critical.



Rapid diagnosis vital in thunderclap headache

25 Apr 2016Registered users

Thunderclap headache is a severe and acute headache that reaches maximum intensity in under one minute and lasts for more than five minutes. Thunderclap headaches may be associated with symptoms such as photophobia, nausea, vomiting, neck pain, focal neurological symptoms or loss of consciousness. Subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH) accounts for 10-25% of all thunderclap headaches and, despite advances in medical technology, has a 90-day mortality of 30%. Up to a quarter of cases of SAH are misdiagnosed, often through failure to follow guidance.


Seizure classification key to epilepsy management

24 Sep 2015Registered users

The diagnosis of epilepsy is often incorrect, potentially in up to 20% of cases, so should be revisited if seizures are not responding to treatment. SIGN recommends that the diagnosis of epilepsy should be made by an epilepsy specialist, ideally in the setting of a dedicated first seizure or epilepsy clinic. Diagnosis relies primarily on the history. Distinguishing between a genetic generalised epilepsy and a focal epilepsy is vital as this influences investigation, treatment and prognosis.



Diagnosis directs treatment in fungal infections of the skin

21 Oct 2015Registered users

Dermatophyte fungi are confined to the keratin layer of the epidermis and include three genera: Microsporum, Epidermophyton and Trichophyton. These infections can be transmitted by human contact (anthropophilic), from the soil (geophilic) and by animal (zoophilic) spread. Dermatophyte infections usually present as an erythematous, scaly eruption, which may or may not be itchy. Asymmetry is an important clinical clue to fungal infection, as is annular morphology.



Optimising the management of bronchiolitis in infants

05 Aug 2015Paid-up subscribers

Bronchiolitis shows a seasonal pattern with peak incidence occurring in the winter. Around 2-3% of children require admission to hospital. Admission rates are highest in infants less than three months old and those with underlying comorbidities. Infants will have a coryzal prodrome lasting one to three days before developing a persistent cough.

Diagnosing and managing peanut allergy in children

23 Jun 2014Registered users

The prevalence of peanut allergy is thought to be rising with 1 in 70 children affected in the UK. Accidental exposures are frequent and nut allergies are the leading cause of fatal food allergic reactions. Peanut allergy most commonly presents in the first five years of life. More than 90% of nut allergic children will have a history of eczema, asthma, rhinitis or another food allergy. The clinical diagnosis of peanut allergy is made from a typical history in combination with clinical evidence of sensitisation i.e. the presence of peanut-specific IgE or positive skin prick tests. [With external links to the evidence base]


Renal medicine

Improving early detection of chronic kidney disease

23 Feb 2015Paid-up subscribers

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is defined as either a reduction in measured kidney function (eGFR) or urinary abnormalities (haematuria/proteinuria) or a combination of both, present for more than 3 months. Individuals with newly identified reduced eGFR should have acute kidney injury excluded. All newly identified CKD patients should have blood pressure, dipstick urinalysis, random urine ACR or PCR, glucose, cholesterol and full blood count checked at the earliest opportunity.

Be vigilant for acute kidney injury in primary care

23 Oct 2013Paid-up subscribers

About 20% of all adult emergency admissions are affected by acute kidney injury (AKI) and the mortality rate is almost 25%.  It has been estimated that AKI, excluding cases in the community, causes more than 10,000 preventable deaths a year in England. AKI represents a wide spectrum of injury to the kidneys, not just kidney failure, the vast majority of AKI cases start with an illness in the community. In AKI, loss of kidney function contributes to morbidity and mortality. Patients die from AKI rather than with AKI as a complication of an underlying illness. The definition of AKI now includes any adult with ≥ 26 µmol/L rise in creatinine from baseline over 48 hours or less, or  ≥ 50% rise in creatinine from baseline known or presumed to have occurred over seven days or less.


Older people

Anxiety in older adults often goes undiagnosed

25 Jan 2016Registered users

Anxiety disorder in the elderly is twice as common as dementia and four to six times more common than major depression. Anxiety is associated with poorer quality of life, significant distress and contributes to the onset of disability. Mortality risks are also increased, through physical causes, especially cardiovascular disease, and suicide. Diagnosing anxiety disorders in older adults remains a challenge because of the significant overlap in symptoms between physical disorders and depression.



Controlling joint pain in older people

25 Jan 2016Registered users

The prevalence of chronic pain in older people in the community ranges from 25 to 76% and for those in residential care, it is even higher at 83 to 93%. The most common sites affected are the back, hip, or knee, and other joints. There is increased reporting of pain in women (79%) compared with men (53%). Common conditions include osteoarthritis and, to a lesser extent, the inflammatory arthropathies such as rheumatoid arthritis. The differential diagnosis includes non-articular pain such as vascular limb pain and nocturnal cramp, some neuropathic pain conditions (such as compressive neuropathies and postherpetic neuralgia), soft tissue disorders such as fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndromes. 


CPD exercises associated with each issue

CPD Exercise - June 2016

23 Jun 2016Paid-up subscribers

All articles in The Practitioner online now include CPD fillable PDF frameworks for personal reflection on learning and drafting of plans. These templates are also included here in our standard study pack containing this month’s CPD exercise plus all relevant articles: • Optimising the management of wheeze in preschool children • Early intervention crucial in anxiety disorders in children • Erectile dysfunction heralds onset of cardiovascular disease.


Women's health

Managing debilitating menopausal symptoms

21 Mar 2016Registered users

Severity and duration of menopausal symptoms varies markedly. Eight out of ten women experience symptoms and on average these last four years, with one in ten women experiencing symptoms for up to 12 years. Menopausal symptoms can begin years before menstruation ceases. A recent study found that women whose vasomotor symptoms started before the menopause suffered longest, median 11.8 years. Women whose hot flushes and night sweats started after the menopause had symptoms for a median of 3.4 years.

Underestimating risk in women delays diagnosis of CVD

21 Mar 2016Registered users

CVD remains the most common cause of mortality in women. There has been an increase in the prevalence of MI in women aged 35 to 54, while a decline in prevalence was observed in age-matched men. Although men and women share classic cardiovascular risk factors the relative importance of each risk factor may be gender specific. The impact of smoking is greater in women than men, especially in those under 50. Diabetes is a more potent risk factor for fatal CHD in women than men.


HASLAM's view

A little praise goes a long way

23 Jun 2016Registered users

Have you any idea how much your patients appreciate you? It’s so sad that so many doctors only find out how much they are appreciated, when they decide that enough is enough.



Does early introduction of foods protect against allergy?

23 Jun 2016

A UK study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, set out to investigate whether introduction of six common dietary allergens from three months of age would prevent food allergies in breast-fed infants in the general population.


Mens' health - Temporary access

Erectile dysfunction heralds onset of cardiovascular disease

23 Jun 2016

Erectile dysfunction (ED) has been shown to share risk factors with cardiovascular disease including age, diabetes mellitus, smoking, hypertension and hypercholesterolaemia, suggesting an underlying vascular pathology. Evidence reveals that there is a potential link between ED and subsequent development of coronary artery disease. ED itself may also increase cardiovascular risk. As ED often predates the development of coronary artery disease this provides GPs with a valuable window of opportunity for risk assessment, subsequent primary prevention and early referral to a cardiologist.

The role of PSA in detection and management of prostate cancer

25 Apr 2016

The prostate specific antigen (PSA) test clearly provides the opportunity for clinically relevant prostate cancer to be detected at a stage when treatment options are greater and outcomes may be improved. In addition, a raised PSA may often indicate benign prostatic enlargement, and this may provide an opportunity for treatment of this condition before complications develop. However, in some patients the PSA test may lead to investigations which can identify clinically insignificant cancers which would not have become evident in a man’s lifetime.