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October 10, 2003, Issue No. 112

AHRQ News and Numbers

From 1996 to 2001, the number of children under age 18 who were uninsured all year decreased from 7 million (10.4 percent) to 5.6 million (8.2 percent). The number of children covered by public insurance increased by 3.2 million, from 10.4 million (16.2 percent) to 14.1 million (20.4 percent). [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Statistical Brief #24: The Uninsured in America—1996-2002, Estimates for the Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population Under Age 65 (PDF File, 211 KB; PDF Help).]

Today's Headlines:

  1. Changes in ICU nurse activity after installation of a third generation information system
  2. Injuries in hospitals pose a significant threat to patients and a substantial increase in health care costs
  3. New study tracks rates of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in Massachusetts children
  4. Use of mammography as a cancer screening tool
  5. Health Legacy Partnership Conference set for October 22
  6. Calling all AHRQ researchers! "Help us to help you."
  7. Do you know how AHRQ's research is being used?
  8. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  Changes in ICU Nurse Activity After Installation of a Third Generation Information System

Installation of a modern computerized medical information management system in the intensive care unit can significantly reduce the time spent by ICU nurses on documentation, freeing them to spend more time on direct patient care, according to an AHRQ study. The study, "Changes in ICU Nurse Activity After Installation of a Third Generation ICU Information System," appears in the October issue of Critical Care Medicine. Observation of nurses in a 10-bed surgical ICU at a Veterans Affairs medical center before and after installation of the information system showed a decrease in the time spent on documentation from 35.1 percent of the nurses' time to 24.2 percent of their time. Select to access the AHRQ press release.

2.  Injuries in Hospitals Pose a Significant Threat to Patients and a Substantial Increase in Health Care Costs

A new AHRQ study shows that medical injuries during hospitalization resulted in longer hospital stays, higher costs, and a higher risk of death in 2000. The study, "Excess Length of Stay, Charges, and Mortality Attributable to Medical Injuries During Hospitalization," was published in the October 8 issue of JAMA. Researchers led by AHRQ's Chunliu Zhan, M.D., Ph.D., found that the impact of medical injuries varies substantially. The study used AHRQ's Patient Safety Indicators and Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project's Nationwide Inpatient Sample data to identify medical injuries in 7.45 million hospital discharges from 994 acute care hospitals across 28 states in 2000. The study provides, for the first time, specific estimates for excess length of stay, charges, and the risk of death for 18 of the 20 AHRQ Patient Safety Indicators. Select to access the AHRQ press release.

3.  New Study Tracks Rates of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in Massachusetts Children

A new AHRQ study of 16 Massachusetts communities found that 8 percent of children under age 7 carry antibiotic-resistant S. pneumoniae, a bacterium commonly found in healthy children but which presents a low risk of illness to them. While this rate is much higher than would have been seen a decade ago, a new vaccine is reducing the presence of strains of the bacterium that can cause significant infection. This study was led by Jonathan Finkelstein, M.D., M.P.H., and his colleagues at Harvard and published in the October issue of Pediatrics. It is the first of its kind performed after introduction of a new vaccine to protect children from the seven most invasive strains of S. pneumoniae, which cause more than 80 percent of the serious infections. Select to access the AHRQ press release.

4.  Use of Mammography as a Cancer Screening Tool

Three-quarters of women ages 40-64 received a mammography screening within the last 2 years, according to a new statistical brief using 2001 data from AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Women ages 50-64 had consistently higher mammography screening rates relative to women ages 40-49, regardless of health insurance status. In addition, women covered by private health insurance were more likely to obtain mammography screening exams than those covered by public insurance only or lacking insurance coverage entirely. Select to access the statistical brief, Use of Mammography as a Cancer Screening Tool—2001 (PDF File, 108 KB; PDF Help).

5.  Health Legacy Partnership Conference Set for October 22

Last chance! The fourth annual Health Legacy Partnership conference will be held on October 22 at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC. The goal of the conference is to promote the importance of using evidence-based information in deciding on medical treatments and to discuss development of a national health outcomes database. In addition to AHRQ Director Carolyn Clancy, M.D., speakers at the conference will be Joseph H. Kanter, Chairman of the Joseph H. Kanter Family Foundation; former Senators Robert Dole and George Mitchell; Senator Ron Wyden; Jack Wennberg, M.D., Dartmouth College; Richard Smith, M.D., Editor, the British Medical Journal; Paul Ellwood, M.D., President, Jackson Hole Group; David Kibbe, M.D., Director, Health Information Technology, American Academy of Family Physicians; and Janet Marchibroda, President, eHealth Initiative. Select to access the Web site for information and registration.

6.  Calling All AHRQ Researchers! "Help Us to Help You."

As you may know, AHRQ can help you promote the findings of your research, but we can't do it without you. AHRQ has been successful in working with our grantees and contractors to promote findings to the media and to transfer knowledge based on the research to appropriate audiences in the health care community. However, we know that we can do better. We need you to notify us when you have an article accepted for publication. Please send a copy of the manuscript, anticipated publication date, and contact information for the journal and your institution's PR office to your AHRQ project officer and to AHRQ Public Affairs at Your manuscript will be reviewed to determine what level of marketing we will pursue. Please be assured that AHRQ always honors the journal embargo. Thank you for your cooperation.

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.  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.

Rhoades DA, Buchwald D. Hypertension in older urban Native-American primary care patients. J Am Geriatr Soc 2003 Jun;51(6):774-81. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Beal AC, Kuhlthau K, Perrin JM. Breastfeeding advice given to African American and white women by physicians and WIC counselors. Public Health Rep 2003 Jul-Aug;118(4):368-74. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Hunkeler EM, Spector WD, Fireman B, et al. Psychiatric symptoms, impaired function, and medical care costs in an HMO setting. Gen Hosp Psychiatry 2003 May-Jun;25(3):178-84. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Tucker CM, Herman KC, Pedersen TR, et al. Cultural sensitivity in physician-patient relationships: perspectives of an ethnically diverse sample of low-income primary care patients. Med Care 2003 Jul;41(7):859-70. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Ciccarone DH, Kanouse DE, Collins RL, et al. Sex without disclosure of positive HIV serostatus in a US probability sample of persons receiving medical care for HIV infection. Am J Public Health 2003 Jun;93(6):949-54. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Ziemer DC, Berkowitz KJ, Panayioto RM, et al. A simple meal plan emphasizing healthy food choices is as effective as an exchange-based meal plan for urban African-Americans with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2003 Jun;26(6):1719-24. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

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

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Current as of October 2003


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