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September 22, 2006, Issue No. 210


AHRQ News and Numbers

The nation's hospital bill totaled more than $790 billion in 2004, according to a new report by HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The bill represents the total amount charged for 39 million hospital stays that year. Federal and State governments were billed for nearly $500 billion, or 60 percent, of the national hospital bill for Medicare and Medicaid patients. (Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality,HCUP Statistical Brief #13: The National Hospital Bill: The Most Expensive Conditions, by Payer, 2004 (PDF File, 307 KB; PDF Help.)

Today's Headlines:

  1. NQF and JCAHO Announce the 2006 John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Awards
  2. New AHRQ MEPS Statistical Brief on Health Insurance Status of Children
  3. New Test Measures Spanish-Speaking Patients' Understanding of Basic Medical Terminology
  4. AHRQ Health IT Vacancy Announcements Posted
  5. Highlights From Our Most Recent Monthly Newsletter
  6. AHRQ in the Professional Literature

1.  NQF and JCAHO Announce the 2006 John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Awards

The National Quality Forum (NQF) and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) have announced the 2006 recipients of the annual John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Awards. The honorees, by award category, were:

  • Individual Achievement: Donald Berwick, M.D., Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Boston, MA.
  • Research: Jerry H. Gurwitz, M.D., University of Massachusetts Medical School, Boston, MA.
  • Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality at a National or Regional Level: Minnesota Alliance for Patient Safety, St. Paul, MN; Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, Huntingdon Valley, PA.
  • Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality at the Local or Organizational Level: Wichita Citywide Heart Care Collaborative, Wichita, KS.

2.  New AHRQ MEPS Statistical Brief on Health Insurance Status of Children

AHRQ issued a new statistical brief with 2005 data on health insurance status of noninstitutionalized children in United States. Estimates are presented for the first half of calendar years 1996 through 2005. Statistical Brief No. 141: Changes in Children's Health Insurance Status, 1996-2005: Estimates for the U. S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population under Age 18 (PDF File, 92 KB; PDF Help), presents estimates from the Household Component of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS-HC).

3.  New Test Measures Spanish-Speaking Patients' Understanding of Basic Medical Terminology

Researchers have developed an easy-to-use word-recognition test to assess Spanish speakers' comprehension of medical terms commonly used in clinics and community health programs. Low health literacy plays an important role in health disparities and may contribute to high health care cost, low quality of care, and even medical errors.

The researchers evaluated the test—the Short Assessment of Health Literacy for Spanish-Speaking Adults or SAHLSA—on 201 Spanish-speaking clinic patients from various countries and found that it could reliably identify those with low health literacy. The test, which asks patients to identify words such as embarazo (pregnancy), microbios (germs), and infección (infection), found no major differences among the groups except that patients of South American origin scored higher.

According to the study's leader, Shoou-Yih D. Lee, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina School of Public Health, the new tool overcomes the problems encountered in translating word-recognition health literacy assessment into Spanish and can be used in clinics as well as in community health programs. The article, “Development of an Easy-to-Use Spanish Health Literacy Test,” was published in the August issue of Health Services Research. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

4.  AHRQ Health IT Vacancy Announcements Posted

AHRQ has posted several vacancy announcements, including two positions in its health IT team. They are:

  • Medical Officer (Director, Health Information Technology), Announcement number: HHS-AHRQ-2006-0096.
    Closing date: November 20.
  • Staff Service Fellow (also for the health IT team), Announcement number: HHS-AHRQ-2006-0003.
    Closing date: October 10.

Select to access these and other vacancy announcements.

5.  Highlights From Our Most Recent Monthly Newsletter

Among the key articles in the online issue of Research Activities:

Studies examine the practice of prescribing medications to outpatients that can dangerously interact with one another.
Many patient problems caused by medications or adverse drug events are due to dangerous interactions of coprescribed medications. A new study reveals that one-third of primary care patients are prescribed drugs that strengthen the blood-thinning effect of the anticoagulant warfarin. A second study shows that between 18 and 28 percent of primary care patients are prescribed a drug that can adversely interact with warfarin or three other commonly used drugs.

Other articles include:

  • Elderly women are more likely than men to die after coronary bypass surgery.
  • Twice as many minority children than white children with special health care needs do not receive needed vision care.
  • Studies highlight the value of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to inform trends in care costs, coverage, use, and access.
  • Modifying unhealthy habits in middle age may reduce the likelihood of nursing home admissions later in life.

Select to access these articles and more.

6.  AHRQ in the Professional Literature

We are providing the following hyperlinks to journal abstracts through PubMed® for your convenience. Unfortunately, some of you may not be able to access the abstracts because of firewalls or specific settings on your individual computer systems. If you are having problems, you should ask your technical support staff for possible remedies.

Linder JA, Chan JC, Bates DW. Appropriateness of antiviral prescribing for influenza in primary care: a retrospective analysis. J Clin Pharm Ther 2006 Jun;31(3):245-52. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Gupta D, Potthoff S, Blowers D, et al. Performance metrics for advanced access. J Healthc Manag 2006 Jul-Aug;51(4):246-59. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Hassett MJ, O'Malley AJ, Pakes JR, et al. Frequency and cost of chemotherapy-related serious adverse effects in a population sample of women with breast cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst 2006 Aug 16;98(16):1108-17. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Localio AR, Berlin JA, Ten Have TR. Longitudinal and repeated cross-sectional cluster-randomization designs using missed effects regression for binary outcomes: bias and coverage of frequentist and Bayesian methods. Stat Med 2006 Aug 30;25(16):2720-36. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Adams EK, Bronstein JM, Florence CS. Effects of primary care case management (PCCM) on Medicaid children in Alabama and Georgia: provider availability and race/ethnicity. Med Care Res Rev 2006 Feb;63(1 Supp):73S-95S. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Contact Information

Please address comments and questions regarding the AHRQ Electronic Newsletter to Nancy Comfort at Nancy.Comfort@ahrq.hhs.gov or (301) 427-1866.

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Current as of September 2006

 

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