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At the heart of general practice since 1960

How vaccine dangers may be lurking in your fridge

This week's confidential inquiry into asthma deaths threw up some stark statistics. Three-quarters of deaths were not sudden, it found, and might

have been prevented. That medical care only rated as 'appropriate' in a third of cases must ring alarm bells, as will the fact that high-risk patients continue to slip through the net.

It is important GPs take the latest findings on board, particularly the recommendation they set up 'at-risk registers' of vulnerable patients. The inquiry has made an important contribution by marking out the features of an 'at-risk patient'

­ including poor compliance, depression and alcohol abuse.

It is equally important the new figures are not used as another club with which to beat GPs. If the inquiry has an overriding message, it is that asthma deaths occur almost exclusively in the most vulnerable.

It is not easy to look after patients who are unable to look after themselves.

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