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November 4, 2003, Issue No. 114

AHRQ News and Numbers

From 1996-2001, the number and percent of children covered only by public insurance increased from 10.9 million to 14.1 million (from 16.2 percent to 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. AHRQ, HHS Patient Safety Task Force announce nearly $4 million in patient safety challenge grants
  2. AHRQ National Advisory Council meeting scheduled for November 7
  3. New IOM report calls for transforming the work environment for nurses
  4. Latest issue of AHRQ WebM&M online journal spotlights obstetrics/gynecology case
  5. New AHRQ chartbook highlights data on health care expenses
  6. Community pharmacists' interventions conference set for December 5
  7. Call for papers for upcoming AHRQ/DoD patient safety publication
  8. Highlights from our monthly newsletter
  9. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  AHRQ, HHS Patient Safety Task Force Announce Nearly $4 Million in Patient Safety Challenge Grants

AHRQ and the HHS Patient Safety Task Force today announced the award of almost $4 million to fund 13 projects designed to improve patient safety. Six of the grants will assess patient safety risks to patients and devise ways to prevent them; the remaining seven will implement safe practices that show evidence of eliminating or reducing known hazards to patient safety. The 13 challenge grants build on the Agency's 3-year, $165 million investment in patient safety research. AHRQ currently has over 100 other research projects that comprise an extensive, user-driven patient safety research agenda designed to improve patient safety and enhance quality of care. The Agency will provide up to 50 percent of the total cost of the projects, while grant recipients will be required to provide a minimum of 50 percent of the total costs. Select to access our press release.

2.  AHRQ National Advisory Council meeting scheduled for November 7

HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson announced that there are nine new members of the AHRQ National Advisory Council, which is scheduled to meet on Friday, November 7, in Room 800, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC. The Council will discuss these specific topics: AHRQ's efforts directed to improve decisions regarding the purchase, cost, and effectiveness of prescribed medicines; improving efficiency and quality through health system design; and the National Healthcare Quality Report and the National Healthcare Disparities Report. Select to access our press release and learn about the new members.

3.  New IOM Report Calls for Transforming the Work Environment for Nurses

A new Institute of Medicine report, Keeping Patients Safe: Transforming the Work Environment of Nurses, calls for substantial changes in nurses' work environment to protect patients from health care errors. The report discusses nurse staffing levels and mandatory limits on nurses' work hours. Select to access the report, which was sponsored by AHRQ and released by the IOM today.

4.  Latest Issue of AHRQ WebM&M Online Journal Spotlights Obstetrics/Gynecology Case

The seventh issue of the AHRQ WebM&M online patient safety journal is now available at AHRQ WebM&M Web site. This month's articles include a missing test result leading to a 6-month delay in a new HIV diagnosis; a misplaced nasogastric tube that tragically delivered activated charcoal into a patient's lungs; an infant whose diagnosis of meningitis was delayed by miscommunication at the clinic, the emergency department, and the lab; and a patient receiving the wrong answer about her pregnancy test due to switched specimens. This month's spotlight case is in OBGYN and describes a case in which a surgeon, trusting his memory more than the patient's chart, directs a resident to remove the wrong side on a patient with unilateral vulvar cancer. As always, the spotlight case includes a downloadable set of slides. By completing the spotlight quiz, clinicians can receive CME credit and trainees can receive certification in patient safety, thereby helping to meet new Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education requirements for systems-based learning. Cases and CME from previous issues are still available under "Archives" and "Past Issues" on the site. There are now more than 5,000 registrants viewing the journal regularly.

5.  New AHRQ Chartbook Highlights Data on Health Care Expenses

People who received some health care in 1999 had average expenses of $2,557, according to a new chartbook featuring estimates based on data from AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey about Americans who lived at home and weren't in the military. Total health care expenses for this population—84 percent of whom had some health care expenses during 1999—were $596 billion. The average expense for a person without insurance was $684, while the average expense per Medicare beneficiary with supplemental Medicaid coverage was $8,069. In 1999, 5 percent of this population accounted for slightly more than half of the total health expenses; the bottom 50 percent accounted for only 3 percent of all health expenses. The data in the chartbook are presented in an uncomplicated way, using a question-and-answer style with pie charts and bar graphs. Select to access the chartbook.

6.  Community Pharmacists' Interventions Conference Set for December 5

AHRQ, in partnership with the FDA, the National Quality Forum, the National Business Coalition on Health, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, and the National Community Pharmacists Association, is cosponsoring a 1-day conference to examine the growing body of research measuring the impact of community pharmacists' interventions on the public's health and safety. The conference, Providing Quality Care—Examining the Clinical and Cost-Effectiveness of Community Pharmacist Intervention, will be held on December 5 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, Arlington, VA. Researchers will discuss current research and practice models and identify partnerships for the dissemination and adoption of best practices and future research. The program is designed for public and private purchasers of care, their consultants and researchers, federal and state policymakers, agency representatives, and health care practitioners who can establish collaborative practices with community pharmacists. There is no registration fee for the conference, but pre-registration is required due to limited seating. For more information, call the registration department of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores at (703) 837-4300.

7.  Call for Papers for Upcoming AHRQ/DoD Patient Safety Publication

AHRQ and the Department of Defense (DoD) are partnering to produce a two- to three-volume set of reviewed papers in book form on patient safety that is scheduled for release in the fall of 2004. The publication, titled Advances in Patient Safety: From Research to Implementation, will highlight the research findings, methodological perspectives, implementation issues, and tools and products stemming from recent federally funded patient safety research. You are invited to submit abstracts and papers for inclusion in one of the following four categories: conceptual frameworks and research, methodological perspectives, implementation issues, and tools and products. The deadline for abstract submission is December 16.

8.  Highlights from the Most Recent Edition of our Monthly Newsletter

The September issue of Research Activities is in the mail. Among the key articles is:

  1. Prescribing COX-2-selective NSAIDs over traditional NSAIDs is influenced by physician specialty and patient risk factors.

Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often used long term by patients suffering from inflammatory illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis. However, the safety of long-term NSAID use remains a concern, especially for patients at greater risk for toxicity, such as the elderly. More physicians are using the newer and potentially safer cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2)-selective NSAIDs (coxibs) to treat inflammatory disease.

Other articles are:

  • Newer treatments for hepatitis C infection appear to be cost effective, but results vary widely across different groups.
  • Quality improvement initiatives can improve health care for minorities.
  • Hospital type and experience affect outcomes of children who undergo tracheotomy.
  • Hospitals that increase their number of registered nurses increase their operating costs but do not decrease profits.

Select for these articles and others.

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.

Selden TM, Banthin JS. Health care expenditure burdens among elderly adults: 1987 and 1996. Med Care 2003 Jul;41(7 Suppl):III13-23. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Jackson DJ, Lang JM, Swartz WH, et al. Outcomes, safety, and resource utilization in a collaborative care birth center program compared with traditional physician-based perinatal care. Am J Public Health 2003 Jun;93(6):999-1006. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Asch SM, Kilbourne AM, Gifford AL, et al. Underdiagnosis of depression in HIV: who are we missing? J Gen Intern Med 2003 Jun;18(6):450-60. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Gray DT, Hollingworth W, Blackmore C, et al. Conventional radiography, rapid MR imaging, and conventional MR imaging for low back pain: activity-based costs and reimbursement. Radiology 2003 Jun;227(3):669-80. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Yoos HL, Kitzman H, McMullen A. Barriers to anti-inflammatory medication use in childhood asthma. Ambul Pediatr 2003 Jul-Aug;3(4):181-90. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Rosen J, Mittal V, Mulsant BH, et al. Educating the families of nursing home residents: a pilot study using a computer-based system. J Am Med Dir Assoc 2003 May-Jun;4(3):128-34. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Feliz-Aaron K, Stryer D. Moving from rhetoric to evidence-based action in health care. J Gen Intern Med 2003 Jul;18(7):589-91. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of November 2003


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