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October 11, 2000, Issue No. 15


AHRQ News and Numbers

Today's Headlines:

  1. USA Today Story on Medical Errors
  2. New AHRQ National Advisory Council Members
  3. National Guideline Clearinghouse™ Tutorial
  4. Last Chance to Register for Working Conditions and Patient Safety Conference
  5. Study on the Quality of Health Care Services Received by Medicare Beneficiaries in Fee-for-Service Health Plans
  6. Evidence Report on Management of Chronic Hypertension During Pregnancy
  7. Evidence Report on Garlic: Effects on Cardiovascular Risks and Disease, Protective Effects Against Cancer, and Clinical Adverse Effects
  8. Children's Mental Health Monograph
  9. AHRQ Awards 10 New Large Grants
  10. New HEDIS Study
  11. AHRQ Awards Primary Care Practice-based Research Networks Grants
  12. Tell Us What You Think About Our Web Site
  13. Guidelines Added to the National Guideline Clearinghouse™
  14. AHRQ in the News
  15. Factoid

1.  USA Today Story on Medical Errors

The October 11 edition of USA Today (http://www.usatoday.com/life/health/errors/cover.htm) contains a front-page story on medical errors that features Sue Sheridan and her family. Sue, a consumer from Boise, Idaho, testified at the September 11 National Summit on Medical Errors and Patient Safety Research that the Quality Interagency Coordination (QuIC) Task Force sponsored.

2.  New AHRQ National Advisory Council (NAC) Members

Secretary Donna E. Shalala announced the appointment of eight new members to the AHRQ's NAC. The Council provides advice to the Secretary and to the Director of the Agency.

3.  National Guideline Clearinghouse™ (NGC) Tutorial

AHRQ has created a tutorial on CD-ROM to help users navigate the National Guideline Clearinghouse™ (NGC), which is sponsored by AHRQ in partnership with the American Medical Association and the American Association of Health Plans. The CD-ROM tutorial, which demonstrates most of the features of the NGC, can be run with Windows® or Macintosh operating systems, using Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator browsers, with a minimum of 32 MB of RAM, and a sound card and speakers. The free CD-ROM is available by calling 1-800-358-9295 and asking for the NGC Tutorial.

4.  Last Chance to Register for Working Conditions and Patient Safety Conference

AHRQ, together with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, the Veterans' Health Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the National Center for Infectious Diseases, will sponsor a conference next Tuesday and Wednesday, October 17-18, in Pittsburgh titled, "Enhancing Working Conditions and Patient Safety: Best Practices." The conference will discuss practical approaches to improving both the quality of patient care and working conditions for health care workers. Conference participants will share best practices in these areas, describing both the difficulties encountered and practical examples of successes that can be replicated by others. The QuIC Task Force, charged by the President with addressing quality-of-care issues, including medical errors and patient safety, is a group made up of all Federal agencies with responsibility for studying, providing, regulating, and/or purchasing health care services.

5.  Study on the Quality of Health Care Services Received by Medicare Beneficiaries in Fee-for-Service Health Plans

AHRQ Director John Eisenberg participated in a Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) press conference on October 3 to release a new study on the quality of health care services received by Medicare beneficiaries in fee-for-service health plans. HCFA measured 24 process-of-care measures related to primary prevention, secondary prevention, and/or treatment of six medical conditions:

  1. Acute myocardial infarction.
  2. Breast cancer.
  3. Diabetes.
  4. Congestive heart failure.
  5. Pneumonia.
  6. Stroke.

The study was published in the October 4 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

6.  Evidence Report on Management of Chronic Hypertension During Pregnancy

AHRQ today announced the availability of a summary of an evidence report by the San Antonio Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC). The EPC conducted a systematic review of the current literature on chronic hypertension during pregnancy, including evidence regarding risks of chronic hypertension, benefits and adverse effects of pharmacotherapy, nonpharmacological treatment, and monitoring techniques. Select to access the summary. Print copies of the summary are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse, 1-800-358-9295. Copies of the full report will be available early next year.

7.  Evidence Report on Garlic: Effects on Cardiovascular Risks and Disease, Protective Effects Against Cancer, and Clinical Adverse Effects

AHRQ announced the availability of a summary of an evidence report by the University of Texas Health Science Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) on October 3. The EPC presented information based on studies about the use of garlic for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Dietary use of garlic may lower some types of cholesterol in the short term, but it does not appear to offer any long-term protection against cardiovascular disease. Garlic may help to reduce the low-density lipids (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol and triglycerides. However, the evidence is only for short-term (1 to 3 months) effects. The levels of high-density lipids (HDL), or "good" cholesterol were unaffected. After 6 months, no further reductions in either triglycerides or LDL were apparent. Select to access the summary. Print copies of the summary are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse, 1-800-358-9295. Copies of the full report will be available later this year.

8.  Children's Mental Health Monograph

A report on children's mental health, as well as a 4-page summary of that report, is now available through AHRQ's Publications Clearinghouse. The report, entitled Children's Mental Health: The Changing Interface Between Primary and Specialty Care was developed through the Children's Mental Health Alliance Project (CMHAP) and funded by AHRQ and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Print copies of the summary are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse, 1-800-358-9295.

9.  AHRQ Awards 10 New Large Grants

AHRQ today announced the funding of 10 new research projects, including:

  • Improving the Evidence for Unstable Angina Guidelines.
  • Impact of Early Discharge Following Bypass Surgery.
  • Measurement of Women's Satisfaction with Primary Care.

10.  New HEDIS Study

Dr. Alan M. Zasvalvsky, et al, published a study entitled: "Impact of Sociodemographic Case Mix on the HEDIS Measures of Health Plan Quality" in the October issue of Medical Care, vol. 38, no. 10, pp. 981-992. This AHRQ-funded study found that performance on the standardized measures used by the nation's health insurers when computing their scores through the Health Plan Employer Data Set (HEDIS)—the reporting tool that monitors how well health plans perform essential medical services—is influenced by factors such as the amount of education, income, and racial/ethnic background of plan members.

11.  AHRQ Awards Primary Care Practice-based Research Networks Grants

AHRQ announced on October 2 the award of 19 exploratory grants to support 1-year planning efforts by primary care Practice-based Research Networks (PBRNs). The PBRNs will be able to engage in research with over 5,000 primary care providers and almost seven million patients in a variety of primary care practice settings across the United States.

12.  Tell Us What You Think About Our Web Site

Customer feedback is important to us and we are conducting an online evaluation during October. A redesigned AHRQ Web site http://www.ahrq.gov was launched in June after extensive testing with user groups. Recommendations and comments from last year's online Web site evaluation were incorporated in the redesign to be responsive to feedback. We are now enlisting your help in reviewing and rating the redesigned site, and letting us know what you like about it and what you would want to see improved. Please take the time to look over and evaluate the site and fill out the online survey, and thanks for your help.

13.  Guidelines Added to the National Guideline Clearinghouse™ (NGC)

During the month of September, eight guidelines were added to the NGC. There are now 860 guidelines in the NGC. Select http://www.guidelines.gov to access these guidelines and others.

  • Assessment of brain SPECT.
  • Assessment: Clinical autonomic testing.
  • Practice parameter: Diagnosis of patients with nervous system Lyme borreliosis.
  • Evidence-based protocol: Advance directives.
  • Research-based protocol: Individualized music.
  • Long-term management of asthma by classification.
  • Screening for prostate cancer.
  • Evidence-based clinical practice guideline for management of children with mild traumatic head injury.

14.  AHRQ in the News

Clancy CM, Bierman AS. Quality and outcomes of care for older women with chronic disease. Womens Health Issues 2000 July-August; 10(4):178-191.

Hellinger FJ, Fleishman JA. Estimating the national cost of treating people with HIV disease: Patient, payer, and provider data J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol 2000 June 1; 24(2):182-188.

Hujoel PP, Drangsholt M, Spiekerman C, et al. Periodontal disease and coronary heart disease risk. JAMA 2000 September 20; 284(11):1406-1410.

New five-step smoking cessation plan can help even long-time smokers to quit. Geriatrics 2000 September; 55(9):33.

Petrou S, Henderson J, Robert T, et al. Recent economic evaluations of antenatal screening: a systematic review and critique. J Med Screen 2000; 7(1):59-73.

Rosenberg CH, Popelka GM. Post-stroke rehabilitation. A review of the guidelines for patient management. Geriatrics 2000 September;55(9):75-82.

Seid M, Varni JW, Kurtin PS. Measuring quality of care for vulnerable children: Challenges and conceptualization of a pediatric outcome measure of quality. Amer J Med Qual 2000 Jul-Aug; 15(4):182-188.

Sweeney R, Lapp T. Conference committee reaches funding decisions. Am Fam Physician 2000 September 1; 62(5):937.

Wethers DL. Sickle cell disease in childhood: Part I. Laboratory diagnosis, pathophysiology and health maintenance. Am Fam Physician 2000 September 1; 62(5):1013-1020.

15.  Factoid

Medicaid is billed for over a third of all stays for babies born in the hospital. [Elixhauser A, Yu K, Steiner C, and Bierman AS. Hospitalization in the United States, 1997. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2000. HCUP Fact Book No. 1].

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Current as of October 2000

 

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