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March 5, 2004, Issue No. 126

AHRQ News and Numbers

In 2001, of all U.S. employees enrolled in health insurance through their employers, 46.3 percent took single coverage, 17.3 percent took employee-plus-one coverage, and 36.4 percent took family coverage. Employee contributions toward premiums averaged $498 for single coverage, $1,070 for employee-plus-one coverage, and $1,741 for family coverage. The total average premiums were $2,889 for single coverage, $5,463 for employee-plus-one coverage, and $7,509 for family coverage. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Statistical Brief #36: State Differences in the Cost of Job-Related Health Insurance, 2001 (PDF File, 100 KB; PDF Help).]

Today's Headlines:

  1. AHRQ releases new tool for PDAs to help clinicians treat community-acquired pneumonia
  2. AHRQ releases third product of the Safety Net Monitoring Initiative
  3. Patient safety initiative update—Report to Congress
  4. 2004 Building Bridges Conference
  5. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  AHRQ Releases New Tool for PDAs to Help Clinicians Treat Community-Acquired Pneumonia

AHRQ released the Pneumonia Severity Index Calculator, an interactive application for Palm Pilots and other personal digital assistants (PDAs) to help doctors quickly and easily determine whether patients with community-acquired pneumonia should be treated at home or in a hospital. Community-acquired pneumonia contracted outside of a hospital or nursing home environment affects approximately 4 million Americans and costs approximately $10 billion to treat each year. Nearly all of those costs—92 percent—are spent on treating patients who are hospitalized for care. Developed by MDpda Design, Inc., the Pneumonia Severity Index Calculator is based on a clinical algorithm produced in 1997 by an AHRQ-funded research team. This is the first of a series of AHRQ PDA applications. It is available for download. The Pneumonia Severity Index Calculator is available in Palm OS, Pocket, and HTML formats.

2.  AHRQ Releases Third Product of the Safety Net Monitoring Initiative

AHRQ announced the availability of the third product of the safety net monitoring initiative, Monitoring the Nation's Health Care Safety Net Book III: Tools for Monitoring the Health Care Safety Net. With topics ranging from estimating the size of local uninsured populations to using administrative data and presenting information to policymakers, Book III is a tool kit designed to help policy analysts and planners at the state and local levels assess the performance and needs of their local safety nets. The nation's safety net system of providing health care to low-income and other vulnerable populations was described as "intact but endangered" in a report released by the IOM in 2000, leading AHRQ and HRSA to create a joint safety net monitoring initiative and develop the new products. Select to access the site to read the free book. A print copy is available by sending an E-mail to and requesting publication number 03-0027. The site also includes Books I and II, a fact sheet, electronic data sets and documentation, and frequently asked questions.

3.  Patient Safety Initiative Update—Report to Congress

AHRQ issued a status update on the Agency's entire patient safety initiative to the Senate Committee on Appropriations. The report, AHRQ's Patient Safety Initiative: Building Foundations, Reducing Risk, summarizes the interim results from the 16 Medical Error Reporting Demonstration Evaluation projects awarded by AHRQ in September 2001. This report responds to specific questions raised by the Senate Appropriations Committee in its report accompanying the FY 2003 appropriation, highlights AHRQ's systematic approach to building the foundation for a national Patient Safety Initiative, and addresses progress to date as well as strategic direction in the near and long term. Select to access the report. A print copy is available by sending an E-mail to

4.  2004 Building Bridges Conference

Mark your calendar. AHRQ, CDC, and AAHP-HIAA are co-sponsoring the 2004 Building Bridges Conference, Research on the Cutting Edge: Adopting Evidence for the Real World, to be held April 1-2 in Miami. Featured speakers include AHRQ Director Carolyn Clancy, M.D.; Claude Lenfant, M.D., former NHLBI Director; and Judith Hibbard, M.D., University of Oregon. This meeting provides an opportunity to share innovative research models and examine effective methods for translating evidence-based research into improved health care policies, medical decisionmaking processes, and clinical practice.

5.  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.

Kornick CA, Kilborn MJ, Santiago-Palma J, et al. QTc interval prolongation associated with intravenous methadone. Pain 2003 Oct;105(3):499-506. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Lavigne JE, Phelps CE, Mushlin A, et al. Reductions in individual work productivity associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Pharmacoeconomics 2003;21(15):1123-34. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Siminoff LA, Mercer MB, Arnold R. Families' understanding of brain death. Prog Transplant 2003 Sep;13(3):218-24. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Allen LaPointe NM, Chen A, Hammill B, et al. Evaluation of the dofetilide risk-management program. Am Heart J 2003 Nov;146(5):894-901. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Saint S, Higgins LA, Nallamothu BK, et al. Do physicians examine patients in contact isolation less frequently? A brief report. Am J Infect Control 2002 Oct;31(6):354-6. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Pearson SA, Ross-Degnan D, Payson A, et al. Changing medication use in managed care: a critical review of the available evidence. Am J Manag Care 2003 Nov;9(11):715-31. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Weingart SN, Toth M, Sands DZ, et al. Physicians' decisions to override computerized drug alerts in primary care. Arch Intern Med 2003 Nov 24;163(21):2625-31. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Hahn EA, Cella D, Dobrez D, et al. The talking touchscreen: a new approach to outcomes assessment in low literacy. Psycho-Oncology 2004;13:86-95. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of March 2004


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