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August 15, 2003, Issue No. 107

AHRQ News and Numbers

Each year between 1997-2000, among individuals with a prescription medicine purchase, the average number of prescriptions for those age 65 and older was more than double the average number of prescriptions for people under age 65. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Statistical Brief 21: Trends in Outpatient Prescription Drug Utilization and Expenditures: 1997-2000 (PDF File, 142 KB; PDF Help).]

Today's Headlines:

  1. Patient Safety Improvement Corps training program announced
  2. Register now for November 7 Patient Safety Research Summit
  3. AHRQ-HRSA Web-assisted audioconference on Monitoring the Health Care Safety Net set for September 23-25
  4. New evidence report summary on heart failure treatment available
  5. Highlights from our monthly newsletter
  6. New bioterrorism workshop materials available on audiotape
  7. Do you know how AHRQ's research is being used?
  8. Guidelines added to the National Guideline Clearinghouse™
  9. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  Patient Safety Improvement Corps Training Program Announced

AHRQ, in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs, is supporting a training program called the Patient Safety Improvement Corps. Its purpose is to train teams of state health officials and their selected private or public hospital partners in analyzing reported medical errors, identifying their root causes, and developing and implementing interventions to improve patient safety. The VA's National Center for Patient Safety will conduct the training. The program is tuition-free, and the cost of travel and lodging is being reimbursed. The first program is scheduled to begin in mid-September. Applications for participation in the program must be submitted by August 21 by the state departments of health or other state organizations dealing with the reporting and analysis of medical errors, although teams may be made up of state staff and hospital partner staff. Select to access the announcement for more information.

2.  Register Now for November 7 Patient Safety Research Summit

On November 7, the Federal Quality Interagency Coordination (QuIC) Task Force led by AHRQ will sponsor the Second National Summit on Patient Safety Research. This user-driven meeting will provide an opportunity for participants to review current patient safety research in light of the research agenda developed from the first summit held in September 2000. It will also provide participants the chance to discuss updating that agenda to reflect emerging research needs in patient safety. The summit is being supported by AHRQ and facilitated by RAND. Select to access more information, including instructions on how to register and how to submit discussion papers or written testimony on selected topics.

3.  AHRQ-HRSA Web-assisted Audioconference on Monitoring the Health Care Safety Net Set for September 23-25

AHRQ and HRSA will conduct a series of three free 90-minute national Web-assisted audioconferences September 23, 24, and 25. The purpose of these audioconferences is to inform state and community health officials about the AHRQ Safety Net Data Books and Tool Kit and teach them how they can use these new instruments to assess the performance and needs of their local safety nets. The calls will be held each day from 2-3:30 p.m. EDT. Select to register.

4.  New Evidence Report Summary on Heart Failure Treatment Available

ACE inhibitors and beta blockers reduce deaths in a broad range of patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction, according to a new evidence report, Pharmacological Management of Heart Failure and Left Ventricular Systolic Dysfunction: Effect in Female, Black, and Diabetic Patients, and Cost-Effectiveness. This report was developed by AHRQ's Southern California Evidence-based Practice Center. However, the value of using ACE inhibitors in women with asymptomatic left ventricular systolic dysfunction is uncertain, and additional study is needed. In addition, based on data from a single study, the beta blocker bucindolol may be associated with increased mortality in blacks, whereas other beta blockers provide similar benefits to blacks and whites. Among other conclusions is that treatment of asymptomatic left ventricular dysfunction with ACE inhibitors is very cost effective. Select to access the summary. A print copy is available by sending an E-mail to

5.  Highlights From Our Monthly Newsletter

The new issue of Research Activities has been mailed. Among the key articles:

  • Patients who receive stem cell transplants at high-volume transplant centers are less likely to die or fail treatment.

According to an AHRQ-funded review, high-dose chemotherapy with or without radiation therapy followed by hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is widely used to treat a variety of cancers and other diseases. These stem cells can be collected from bone marrow, peripheral blood, or umbilical cord blood. Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin examined studies on the association between treatment center factors and clinical outcomes in general medicine and surgery.

Other articles are:

  • Common physician medication errors could be prevented by linking laboratory and pharmacy information systems.
  • School-based health centers reduce asthma-related hospitalization and absenteeism among urban children.
  • Some 911 callers may be safely referred to alternative services to save ambulances for true emergencies.
  • Financial consequences for doctor referrals to specialists affect patient satisfaction but not outcomes.

Select to access Research Activities to read these articles and others.

6.  New Bioterrorism Workshop Materials Available on Audiotape

Versions of several 90-minute Web-assisted audioconferences sponsored by AHRQ on topics related to bioterrorism and health systems preparedness are now available on audiotape for $10 per tape. Call 1-800-358-9295 or send an E-mail to to request AHRQ 03-AV06A for Disaster Planning Drills and Readiness Assessment, which was held April 15. Ask for AHRQ 03-AV10A to order Surge Capacity Assessments and Regionalization Issues, which was held June 17. Request AHRQ 03-AV04A for Addressing the Smallpox Threat: Issues, Strategies, and Tools, which was held March 3. These conferences discuss the latest health services research findings, promising practices, and other important information for state and local health officials and health system decisionmakers.

7.  Do You Know How AHRQ's Research Is Being Used?

We are always looking for ways in which AHRQ-funded research, products, and tools have changed people's lives, influenced clinical practice, improved policies, and affected patient outcomes. Impact case studies describe AHRQ research findings in action. These case studies are used in testimony, budget documents, and speeches. We would like to know if you are aware of any impact your AHRQ-funded research has had on health care policy, clinical practice, or patient outcomes. Contact AHRQ's Impact Case Studies Program at (301) 427-1243 with your impact stories.

8.  Guidelines Added to the National Guideline Clearinghouse™

To see what's new at the National Guideline Clearinghouse™ (NGC)—an online public resource for evidence-based clinical practice guidelines—select to access What's New. To subscribe to the NGC Weekly Update Service, which notifies you via E-mail when new features and guidelines become available at the NGC Web site, select to register. AHRQ also has available a supply of NGC tutorials on CD-ROM. The tutorial walks you through a series of informative demonstrations and scenarios on using the NGC. The CD-ROM is available free of charge by calling the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at 1-800-358-9295 or by sending an E-mail to

9.  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.

Swan JS, Sainfort F, Lawrence WF, et al. Process utility for imaging in cerebrovascular disease. Acad Radiol 2003 Mar;10(3):266-74. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Haddock CK, Poston WS, Taylor JE, et al. Smoking and health outcomes after percutaneous coronary intervention. Am Heart J 2003 Apr;145(4):652-7. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Vitiello B, Burnam MA, Bing EG, et al. Use of psychotropic medications among HIV-infected patients in the United States. Am J Psychiatry 2003 Mar;160(3):547-54. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Lozano P, Finkelstein JA, Hecht J, et al. Asthma medication use and disease burden in children in a primary care population. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2003 Jan;157(1):81-8. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Cook AF, Hoas H, Gutmannova K. Not by technology alone. Project seeks to assess and aid patient safety in rural areas. Biomed Instrum Technology 2003 Mar-Apr;37(2):128-30. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

McDonald CJ, Huff SM, Suico JG, et al. LOINC, a universal standard for identifying laboratory observations: a 5-year update. Clin Chem 2003 Apr;49(4):624-33. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of August 2003


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