Rapid responses are electronic letters to the editor. They enable our users to debate issues raised in articles published on thebmj.com. Although a selection of rapid responses will be included online and in print as readers' letters, their first appearance online means that they are published articles. If you need the url (web address) of an individual response, perhaps for citation purposes, simply click on the response headline and copy the url from the browser window. Letters are indexed in PubMed.
A retired doctor, who often contributes rapid responses, told me that when he was a junior doctor, his consultant would conduct wards rounds during which the consultant would shake the patients' hands. My correspondent said that the consultant explained: 'from the firmness of the handshake, I can get a feeling for how ill the patient is’. Lacking a little, perhaps, in ‘robustness’ in evidential terms, but not exactly time consuming, and rather sensible I feel.