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May 7, 2004, Issue No. 134

AHRQ News and Numbers

Approximately 42 percent of the U.S. population received dental care from a dentist, dental technician, dental hygienist, dental surgeon, orthodontist, endodontist, or periodontist each year from 1996 through 2000. For people who had a dental visit in 2000, the average total dental expenses were $480, an increase of about 28 percent over the average expense in 1996. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Research Findings #20: Dental Services: Use, Expenses, and Sources of Payment, 1996-2000.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. New AHRQ report says better coordination of resources along regional lines is essential to bioterrorism preparedness
  2. HHS listening session on priorities for research under Medicare Modernization Act set for May 21
  3. Studies show lower nurse staffing levels contribute to poor patient outcomes
  4. New issue of AHRQ Web M&M patient safety journal is available online
  5. Training opportunity on May 25-26 — Learn more about the AHRQ Quality Indicators!
  6. Nominations for new members of National Advisory Council for Healthcare Research and Quality are due June 1
  7. AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting and affiliate meetings set for June 3-9
  8. Measures of family assessment of nursing home care are due July 6
  9. Translating Research Into Practice conference scheduled July 12-14
  10. New tools added to AHRQ's QualityTools
  11. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  New AHRQ Report Says Better Coordination of Resources Along Regional Lines Is Essential to Bioterrorism Preparedness

Coordinating resources across local and state lines—also known as regionalization—may benefit some bioterrorism preparedness and response capabilities, but more research is needed to find the best ways of coordinating those resources, according to a new report released today by AHRQ. The new report, Regionalization of Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response, identifies key ways regionalization can make a difference in communities' response. Select to access the press release; select to access a summary of the report. Printed copies of the summary and full report are available by calling AHRQ's Publications Clearinghouse at 1-800-358-9295 or by sending an E-mail to

2.  HHS Listening Session on Priorities for Research Under Medicare Modernization Act Set for May 21

HHS will host a listening session on Friday, May 21, to solicit input on research priorities under Medicare reform legislation signed by President Bush in December. The listening session will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in the John M. Eisenberg Room (Room 800) of the HHS Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC (Federal Center SW Metro station). A call-in line has been established for anyone not able to attend the meeting. The call-in number is 877-546-1565, and the pass code is "Medicare Listening Session." Participants will discuss the implications of Section 1013 of the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, which authorizes HHS to support research that provides information on the outcomes, comparative clinical effectiveness, and appropriateness of health care items and services, including prescription drugs, and outlines strategies for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP programs, including how their services are organized, managed, and delivered. The new law requires the initial priority list for research to be developed by June 2004 and initial research to be completed in December 2005. Written suggestions for the priority list can be submitted online at the Medicare Web site, where the exact language of Section 1013 of the statute also can be found.

3.  Studies Show Lower Nurse Staffing Levels Contribute to Poor Patient Outcomes

AHRQ issued a new synthesis of research studies funded by the Agency and others that indicates that hospitals with lower nurse staffing levels, nurses who spend less time with patients, or fewer registered nurses compared with licensed practical nurses or nurses' aides tend to have higher rates of poor patient outcomes, including pneumonia, shock, cardiac arrest, and urinary tract infections. Select to access our press release and our research synthesis to read Research in Action: Hospital Nurse Staffing and Availability of Care.

4.  New Issue of AHRQ Web M&M Patient Safety Journal is Available Online

The latest issue of the AHRQ WebM&M online patient safety journal is now available at our WebM&M Web site. This month, we encourage you to participate in a brief, anonymous survey about what you like about the site and what we might do to make the site even better. This month's articles include cases in which a nurse draws the privacy drapes for a child in the recovery room, not realizing the child is in distress until she nearly stops breathing; an antenatal room in disarray prompts a search for a missing patient, only to discover that a resident had performed an ultrasound on a nurse-friend; a severely injured woman who rejects a blood transfusion on religious grounds, but her parents arrive as the woman becomes unconscious and persuade the physicians otherwise; and a woman who died after 3 weeks of hospitalization for an undiagnosed respiratory infection, whose test results later revealed that she actually had tuberculosis. This month's spotlight case focuses on a hospitalized patient with diabetes. 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. You can also submit a case for consideration for future editions of the online journal.

5.  Training Opportunity on May 25-26 — Learn More About the AHRQ Quality Indicators!

Mark your calendars for AHRQ Quality Indicators (QIs) training. AHRQ QIs were created to inform health care planning, support evidence-based policy development, and facilitate quality monitoring and surveillance activities. These QIs are constructed using existing hospital discharge data and can be integrated into existing information infrastructures. AHRQ has developed software, which can be used in conjunction with SAS or SPSS, to calculate QI rates from inpatient discharge data derived from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS), the State Inpatient Databases (SID) that are part of AHRQ's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), or any hospital administrative data. In response to user requests, AHRQ is developing a curriculum to assist current and future QI users. As part of the curriculum development, three training sessions will be offered in 2004. The first session will be held on May 25-26 in Jackson Hole, WY. Additional programs will be offered in November and December 2004. Select to access QI Web site and registration Exit disclaimer icon for more details.

6.  Nominations for New Members of National Advisory Council for Healthcare Research and Quality Are Due June 1

AHRQ is currently seeking nominations for seven new public members for its National Advisory Council for Healthcare Research and Quality, which advises the Secretary of HHS and the Director of AHRQ on matters related to actions of the Agency to enhance the quality, improve the outcomes, and reduce the costs of health care services. The 21-member Council meets in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, generally in Rockville, MD, approximately three times a year. Members generally serve 3-year terms, and new members will start their service in the fall of 2004. AHRQ is seeking individuals who are distinguished in the conduct of research, demonstration projects, and evaluations with respect to health care; in the fields of health care quality research or health care improvement; in the practice of medicine or other health professions; in the private health care sector (including health plans, providers, and purchasers); in the fields of health care economics, management science, information systems, law, ethics, business, or public policy; and in representing the interests of patients and consumers of health care. Nominations are due June 1 and should be mailed to Deborah Queenan, AHRQ, 540 Gaither Road, Room 3238, Rockville, MD 20850 or faxed to her at (301) 594-1341. Select to access the Federal Register notice.

7.  AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting and Affiliate Meetings Set for June 3-9

The AcademyHealth Annual Research meeting and affiliate meetings will be held June 3-9 in San Diego. The theme for this year's meeting is "The Premier Forum for Health Services Research." The meeting provides opportunities to present and hear about cutting-edge research, debate timely policy issues, and learn about new methods and funding sources. In conjunction with the annual meeting, AHRQ is co-sponsoring several affiliate meetings:

  • The "Sixth Annual Child Health Services Researchers Meeting" on June 5
  • "AHRQ Enhanced Emphasis on Translating Research Into Practice and Policy" on June 7.
  • "What Do We Know About Quality? Key Findings from the First National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports" on June 8.
  • "MEPS Data: What Every Researcher Should Know" and "HCUP: Data and Tools to Support Improvement in Health Care" on June 9.

8.  Measures of Family Assessment of Nursing Home Care are Due July 6

AHRQ is currently soliciting a voluntary submission by researchers, survey firms, stakeholders, and other interested parties of survey instruments or items from survey instruments measuring family assessments of nursing home care. CMS established as a priority support for the development of a standardized survey for measuring and publicly reporting family and residents' assessments of nursing home care that could be used nationwide. CMS asked AHRQ for assistance in the development and testing of the survey instruments. A resident survey has been developed and is in the process of being field tested. The next step is the development of a standardized instrument for investigation of family perspectives on residents' nursing home care. If selected for incorporation into a standardized CAHPS® instrument for comparing family assessments of nursing home care, measures will be made freely available to encourage widespread use. Submissions are due July 6, and should be mailed to Judith A. Sangl, AHRQ, 540 Gaither Road, Rockville, MD, 20850, or E-mailed to Select to access the Federal Register notice.

9.  Translating Research Into Practice Conference Scheduled July 12-14 in Washington, DC

Mark your calendars for TRIP 2004, "Translating Research Into Practice: Advancing Excellence from Discovery to Delivery." This expanded July 12-14 conference at the new Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, will examine the state-of-the-art and next horizons in implementing research in clinical practice and health policy. AHRQ Director Carolyn Clancy, M.D., is among the keynote speakers, and sessions will focus on knowledge transfer related to ephedra, colorectal and prostate cancer screening, and tobacco cessation interventions for underserved populations. Health care provider organizations, clinicians, patients, purchasers, researchers, innovators, knowledge transfer experts and others from across the public and private sectors will share research, insights, collaborations, and initiatives for moving knowledge of efficacy and effectiveness into sustained practice change.

10.  New Tools Added to AHRQ's QualityTools

To see what's new at QualityTools—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—select to access QualityTools. These tools 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 also features the National Healthcare Quality Report and the National Healthcare Disparities Report. Select to subscribe to QualityTools' Weekly Update Service, which notifies you via E-mail when new tools become available at the QualityTools Web site.

11.  AHRQ in the Professional Literature

Coil CJ, Haukoos JS, Witt M, et al. Evaluation of an emergency department referral system for outpatient HIV testing. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 2004 Jan 1;35(1):52-5. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®

Person SD, Allison JJ, Kiefe Cl, et al. Nurse staffing and mortality for Medicare patients with acute myocardial infarction. Med Care 2004 Jan;42(1):4-12. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®

Lambert MC, Schmitt N, Samms-Vaughan ME, et al. Is it prudent to administer all items for each Child Behavior Checklist cross-informant syndrome? Evaluating the psychometric properties of the Youth Self-Report dimensions with confirmatory factor analysis and item response theory. Psychol Assess 2003 Dec;15(4):550-68. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®

Lawrence VA, Silverstein JH, Cornell JE, et al. Higher Hb level is associated with better early functional recovery after hip fracture repair. Transfusion 2003 Dec;43(12):1717-22. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®

Whelan CT, Jin L, Meltzer D. Pain and satisfaction with pain control in hospitalized medical patients: no such thing as low risk. Arch Intern Med 2004 Jan 26;164(2):175-80. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®

Stelfox HT, Ahmed SB, Fiskio J, et al. Monitoring amiodarone's toxicities: recommendations, evidence, and clinical practice. Clin Pharmacol Ther 2004 Jan;75(1):110-22. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®

Bender RH, Lance TX, Guess LL. Including disrenrollees in CAHPS managed care health plan assessment reporting. Health Care Financ Rev 2003 Fall;25(1):67-79. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®

Tsai AC. Conflicts between commercial and scientific interests in pharmaceutical advertising for medical journals. Int J Health Serv 2003;33(4):751-68. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®

Contact Information

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Current as of May 2004


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