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June 18, 2004, Issue No. 138

AHRQ News and Numbers

About 25 percent of Americans under age 65 with incomes below 200 percent of the poverty line had no health insurance at all in 2001. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Statistical Brief #40: Health Insurance Coverage and Income Levels for the U.S. Noninstitutionalized Population under Age 65, 2001 (PDF File, 112 KB; PDF Help).]

Today's Headlines:

  1. AHRQ makes access to hospital data easier
  2. New issue of AHRQ Web M&M patient safety journal is available online
  3. New AHRQ study shows health care team members often disagree on what constitutes a medical error
  4. Request for comments on preliminary measure sets for National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports
  5. Request for measures of patients' ambulatory care experiences
  6. Free Webcast on updating CAHPS® ambulatory surveys set for June 24
  7. Second AHRQ Web conference on surge capacity and health system preparedness set for July 13
  8. New AHRQ publications
  9. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  AHRQ Makes Access to Hospital Data Easier

AHRQ has redesigned its interactive HCUPnet software tool to make it easier to obtain hospital care trend data for the Nation and for individual States. The data represent 90 percent of all hospital stays in the Nation and are drawn from 36 States. HCUPnet's databases include statistics on the conditions for which patients were hospitalized, the diagnostic and surgical procedures they underwent, patient death rates, hospital charges, hospital costs, length of stay, and other aspects of inpatient care. The data are for all patients, regardless of type of insurance or whether they were insured. Select to access the press release and to view HCUPnet.

2.  New Issue of AHRQ Web M&M Patient Safety Journal Is Available Online

The latest issue of AHRQ's WebM&M online patient safety journal is now available. This month's cases include a woman who receives a nearly seven-fold overdose of the antibacterial dapsone; a patient who nearly undergoes surgery intended for another patient with the same, unusual last name; a patient with vertigo who is handed off to multiple providers, and her true—and ultimately lethal—diagnosis is missed; and a positive result of a communicable infection that fails to make it from the microbiology lab to the floor nurse to the treating physician, resulting in a prolonged delay in treatment. In this month's spotlight case, a child is mistakenly vaccinated for hepatitis A rather than hepatitis B. Despite forthright disclosure and no evident harm to the child, the father becomes incredibly angry with the providers. 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 may also submit a case for consideration for future editions of the online journal.

3.  New AHRQ Study Shows Health Care Team Members Often Disagree on What Constitutes a Medical Error

A new AHRQ-funded study analyzing patient safety data from 29 small rural hospitals between 2001 and 2004 indicates that different members of health care teams—physicians, nurses, pharmacists, administrators—often disagree on what constitutes a medical error or which adverse events should be reported to patients. Researchers conclude that if providers are focused only on the errors with which they are familiar, such as medication errors, then opportunities for improving other aspects of patient safety are diminished. The study article, "An Error by Any Other Name," authored by Ann Freeman Cook, Ph.D., and Helena Hoas, Ph.D. at the National Rural Bioethics Project, University of Montana in Missoula, was published in the June 2004 issue of the American Journal of Nursing. Select to view the abstract.

4.  Request for Comments on Preliminary Measure Sets for National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports

AHRQ announced a request for public comments on the proposed 2004 measure sets to be used in preparing the National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR) and the National Healthcare Disparities Report (NHDR) The 2003 measure sets for the reports were generated through extensive input from public and private organizations, including a call for measures to Federal agencies. Select to access the preliminary measure set for the 2004 NHQR preliminary measure set, for the 2004 NHDR preliminary measure set, and for the NHQR proposed highlight measures. Select to read the Federal Register notice.

5.  Request for Measures of Patients' Ambulatory Care Experiences

AHRQ announced a request for the submission of instruments or items that measure patients' perceptions of the quality of care received in ambulatory settings. This initiative is in response to input from stakeholders and will be used to revise the current CAHPS® tool. The goal is to develop an instrument that can measure different categories of ambulatory health care in order to provide useful information to multiple audiences, as well as to provide performance data that are easier to use for quality improvement. Select to read the Federal Register notice.

6.  Free Webcast on Updating CAHPS® Ambulatory Surveys Set for June 24

AHRQ and the CAHPS® Survey Users Network (SUN) are sponsoring a free Webcast on Thursday, June 24 from 1:00-3:00 p.m. EDT about a new initiative to develop a suite of CAHPS® surveys that cover all levels of ambulatory care. This Webcast, "Updating CAHPS®: Consumer Surveys for Doctors, Groups, and Health Plans," offers a look inside the development of new CAHPS® surveys that are being designed to meet the needs of health plans, providers, purchasers, and consumers. You will learn:

  1. What the CAHPS. ambulatory surveys will be.
  2. How these surveys will meet your information needs.
  3. Why the current CAHPS. Health Plan and Group Practice Surveys are being updated.
  4. How these new or refined instruments will influence future survey projects.
  5. How the development process works and the role you can play in providing input.

7.  Second AHRQ Web Conference on Surge Capacity and Health System Preparedness Set for July 13

Mark your calendars! AHRQ announces the second event in its 2004 series of free bioterrorism Web conference calls on Surge Capacity and Health System Preparedness. Surge capacity is a health care system's ability to rapidly expand beyond normal services to meet the increased demand for qualified personnel, medical care, and public health in the event of bioterrorism or other large-scale public health emergencies or disasters. The second Web-assisted audio conference is scheduled for Tuesday, July 13, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m., EDT and will focus on "Facilities and Equipment." These 90-minute Web conferences are designed to share the latest health services research findings, promising practices, and other important information with State and local health officials and key health systems decisionmakers.

8.  New AHRQ Publications

The Pocket Guide to Good Health for Children

Patient Safety Challenge Grants fact sheet

Child Health Research Findings program brief

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.

Piette JD, Wagner TH, Potter MB, et al. Health insurance status, cost-related medication underuse, and outcomes among diabetes patients in three systems of care. Med Care 2004 Feb; 42(2):102-9. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®

Sices L, Feudtner C, McLaughlin J, et al. How do primary care physicians manage children with possible developmental delays? Pediatrics 2004 Feb; 113(2):274-82. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®

Zou KH, Fielding JR, Ondategui-Parra S. What is evidence-based medicine? Acad Radiol 2004 Feb; 11(2):127-33. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®

Walter LC, de Garmo P, Covinsky KE. Association of older age and female sex with inadequate sigmoidoscopy. Am J Med 2004 Feb 1; 116(3):174-8. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®

Iezzoni LI, O'Day BL, Kileen M, et al. Communicating about health care: observations from persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. Ann Intern Med 2004 Mar 2; 140(5):356-62. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®

Fitzgerald JD, Orav EJ, Lee TH, et al. Patient quality of life during the 12 months following joint replacement surgery. Arthritis Rheum 2004 Feb 15; 51(1):100-9. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®

Hawley ST, Vernon SW, Levin B, et al. Prevalence of colorectal cancer screening in a large medical organization. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2004 Feb; 13(2):314-9. 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 June 2004


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