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November 2010

Best Tests

Investigation of hazardous drinking

Approximately 20–25% of New Zealanders consume alcohol at a harmful or hazardous level, however, these problems will remain undetected in many of these people. A simple screening question, followed by a more in-depth questionnaire if required, can be a successful approach to identifying a patient with alcohol issues, within a general practice consultation. Laboratory tests are not routinely recommended for screening for hazardous drinking in primary care. View Article

Investigating mercury toxicity

Although there are many potential sources of exposure to mercury and its compounds, most people can be reassured that they are at low risk of mercury toxicity. The exception to this is the exposure of the developing foetal brain to organic mercury. Laboratory testing of mercury levels is generally not appropriate unless specific indications are present such as a history of mercury ingestion or occupational exposure. View Article

Use of INR for monitoring warfarin treatment

Regular measurement of INR levels is an essential component in the management of patients receiving warfarin treatment. Many factors can influence INR control so management can sometimes be challenging. Practices are encouraged to develop protocols for warfarin management, to minimise the risks and maximise the benefits of treatment for patients. Computerised decision support tools can help to achieve improved therapeutic control. View Article

Quiz feedback: Men’s & Women’s health

This quiz feedback provides an opportunity to revisit the September 2010 “Best Tests” document and accompanying quiz which focused on appropriate use of laboratory tests in the primary care setting, for men’s and women’s health. View Article