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January 16, 2004, 2003, Issue No. 121

AHRQ News and Numbers

The four therapeutic classes of drugs accounting for the largest expenses for children in the community population in 1999 were respiratory agents, anti-infectives, psychotherapeutic agents, and topical agents. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Chartbook No. 12: Outpatient Prescription Drug Expenses—1999.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. AHRQ announces new chair and members of U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
  2. New study estimates potential savings gained by expanding use of beta blockers in heart failure patients
  3. Latest issue of AHRQ WebM&M is now online
  4. AHRQ launches new QualityTools Web site
  5. HCUP Web seminar set for January 21
  6. 2004 Building Bridges Conference
  7. Do you know how AHRQ's research is being used?
  8. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  AHRQ Announces New Chair and Members of U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

AHRQ announced that five new members and a new chair have been named to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Sponsored by AHRQ, the Task Force is the leading independent panel of private-sector experts in prevention and primary care. The Task Force conducts rigorous, impartial assessments of the scientific evidence for a broad range of preventive services. Bruce Nedrow (Ned) Calonge, M.D., M.P.H., a member of the Task Force for 2 years, takes leadership this month. The five new members are Leon Gordis, M.D., M.P.H., Dr. P.H.; Kimberly Gregory, M.D., M.P.H.; Judith Ockene, Ph.D. M.Ed.; Diana Petitti, M.D., M.P.H.; and Barbara Yawn, M.D., M.Sc. Alfred O. Berg, M.D., M.P.H., is stepping down as Chair of the Task Force that he has led since 1996. Janet Allan, Ph.D., R.N., will continue as Vice Chair. Select to read the press release.

2.  New Study Estimates Potential Savings Gained by Expanding Use of Beta-Blockers in Heart Failure Patients

In a new AHRQ-funded study using a decision model, researchers estimate that Medicare costs would decrease if the use of beta-blocker drugs were more widespread. The study, "Economic Effects of Beta-Blocker Therapy in Patients with Heart Failure," is published in the January issue of the American Journal of Medicine. Although numerous clinical trials have demonstrated the effectiveness of beta-blockers in reducing hospitalizations and deaths from heart failure, recent studies suggest that beta-blocker use in the heart failure population remains at less than optimal levels. Although at the time of the study Medicare did not cover prescription drugs, researchers estimate that program savings would remain positive even if Medicare reimbursed patients for the cost of beta-blockers. Select to read the press release and the abstract on PubMed®.

3.  Latest Issue of AHRQ WebM&M Is Now Online

The ninth edition of the AHRQ WebM&M online patient safety journal is now available at WebM&M. This month's cases include a patient whose code status was "Do Not Resuscitate" who encountered a potentially life-threatening medication error; a patient undergoing hernia repair who inadvertently has his only remaining testicle removed; a triage delay, which led parents to take their feverish child to a different ED—where, upon arrival, the child was in full arrest; and, a pregnant woman who arrived at the ED with severe abdominal pain, whose correct diagnosis was not considered until the OB resident arrived. This month's spotlight case describes a patient with chest pain who was incorrectly diagnosed as having had a heart attack. The physicians were eventually able to reach the correct diagnosis, but it was too late for the patient, who died. 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.

4.  AHRQ Launches New QualityTools Web Site

On December 22, 2003, AHRQ launched the QualityTools site, available at QualityTools. QualityTools is a Web-based clearinghouse that will give health care providers, health plans, policymakers, purchasers, patients, and consumers an accessible mechanism to implement quality improvement recommendations, initiatives, or principles. The tools contained within the clearinghouse can be used to improve the delivery and receipt of care, inform health care decisions, and educate individuals regarding their own health care needs. The QualityTools Web site features the National Healthcare Quality Report and the National Healthcare Disparities Report, two congressionally mandated reports issued by AHRQ. These reports represent the first national comprehensive effort to measure the quality of health care in America and measure the differences in access and use of health care services by various populations.

5.  HCUP Web Seminar Set for January 21

Register now for a 2-hour Web-assisted audio conference on AHRQ's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) on Wednesday, January 21, from 1:00 pm. to 3:00 p.m. EST. The seminar, "The Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project: Data and Tools to Support Health Services Research," is an introductory course. HCUP is a comprehensive set of all-payer inpatient and outpatient administrative, encounter-level data. Learn about its uses, how to obtain it, and the technical assistance offered through AHRQ. Select for more information.

6.  2004 Building Bridges Conference

The 2004 Building Bridges Conference, Insufficient Evidence?—Stimulating Health Research for the Real World, will be held April 1-2 in Miami. Visit the AAHP Web site for the agenda and more information.

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.

Berry LL, Seiders K, Wilder SS. Innovations in access to care: a patient-centered approach. Ann Intern Med 2003 Oct 7;139(7):568-74. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Dickersin K, Munro M, Langenberg P, et al. Surgical Treatments Outcomes Project for Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding (STOP-DUB): design and methods. Control Clin Trials 2003 Oct;24(5):591-609. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Roeloffs C, Sherbourne C, Unutzer J, et al. Stigma and depression among primary care patients. Gen Hosp Psychiatry 2003 25(5):311-5. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Chan PG, Sung HY, Sawaya GF. Changes in cervical cancer incidence after three decades of screening US women less than 30 years old. Obstet Gynecol 2003 Oct;102(4):765-73. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC. Developing methods for acupuncture research: rationale for and design of a pilot study evaluating the efficacy of acupuncture for chronic low back pain. Altern Ther Health Med 2003 Sep-Oct;9(5):54-60. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Goldman DP, Leibowitz AA, Joyce GF, et al. Insurance status of HIV-infected adults in the post-HAART era: evidence from the United States. App Health Econ Health Policy 2003;2(2):85-91. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Chan I, Wells W 3rd. Detection of prostate cancer by integration of line-scan diffusion, T2-mapping and T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging; a multichannel statistical classifier. Med Phys 2003 Sept;30(9):2390-8. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of January 2004


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