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July 19, 2004, Issue No. 141

AHRQ News and Numbers

Between 1993 and 2002, the number of discharges from U.S. hospitals increased 9 percent (from 34.7 million to 37.8 million); the average length of stay dropped 19 percent (from 5.7 days to 4.6 days); the average charge increased 75 percent (unadjusted for inflation, from $9,800 to $17,000); and the percent of cases admitted through the emergency department increased 40 percent (from 33 percent of all admissions to 43 percent). [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, HCUPnet.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. AHRQ and the Federal Trade Commission collaborate on articles in the International Journal of Health Care Finance and Economics
  2. New study on children with special health care needs
  3. HCUP 2002 Nationwide Inpatient Sample data now available
  4. Improving Chronic Care Quality: A National Conference on Transferring Geriatric Research into Practice
  5. MEPS data users' workshop
  6. Do you know how AHRQ's research is being used?
  7. Updates available on NGC
  8. Highlights from AHRQ's most recent monthly newsletter
  9. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  AHRQ and the Federal Trade Commission Collaborate on Articles in the International Journal of Health Care Finance and Economics

AHRQ and the Federal Trade Commission have collaborated on four articles in the July issue of the International Journal of Health Care Finance and Economics. The articles are "Provider Competition and Health Care Quality: Challenges and Opportunities for Research," by Herbert S. Wong, Ph.D., Peggy McNamara, M.S.P.H., and Warren Greenberg, Ph.D.; "Competition in Medical Services and the Quality of Care: Concepts and History," by Mark Pauly, Ph.D.; "The Evolving Science of Quality Measurement for Hospitals: Implications for Studies of Competition and Consolidation," by Patrick Romano, M.D., M.P.H., and Ryan Mutter, M.A.; and "Incorporating Empirical Research on Health Care Quality into Competition Law and Policy: Four Translational Complexities," by David A. Hyman, M.D., J.D. A free copy of this issue is available by sending an E-mail to

2.  New Study on Children with Special Health Care Needs

A new AHRQ-funded study found that children with special health care needs fare better in capitated managed care programs than in traditional, fee-for-service health insurance plans. The study, "Do Children Receiving Supplemental Security Income Who Are Enrolled in Medicaid Fare Better Under a Fee-for-Service or Comprehensive Capitation Model?" was published in the July issue of Pediatrics. Jean M. Mitchell of Georgetown University and her colleagues found that children with special health care needs covered under the federally funded Supplementary Security Income program who were enrolled in fee-for-service plans were less likely to receive needed dental care, durable medical equipment/supplies, and prescription drugs than those enrolled in partially capitated managed care plans. In addition, caregivers of children in fee-for-service systems encountered more difficulties in navigating the health care system. For example, they experienced problems with scheduling medical appointments, waiting for long periods in doctors' offices, trying to receive medical advice by phone, and getting emergency and/or hospital care. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

3.  HCUP 2002 Nationwide Inpatient Sample Data Now Available

HCUP Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) data from 2002 are now available to the public. The 2002 NIS contains new severity of illness variables. The NIS is a unique and powerful database of hospital inpatient stays. Researchers and policymakers use the NIS to identify, track, and analyze national trends in health care utilization, access, charges, quality, and outcomes. Select for more information about the NIS and how to order the data. Selected data from the 2002 NIS are available from HCUPnet.

4.  Improving Chronic Care Quality: A National Conference on Transferring Geriatric Research into Practice

AHRQ is co-sponsoring a 2-day multidisciplinary research dissemination conference with the University of Missouri-Columbia Nursing Outreach and Distance Education program on September 10-11 in Columbia, MO. The conference, "A National Conference on Transferring Geriatric Research into Practice: Improving Chronic Care Quality," will focus on improving chronic care quality in long-term, home, and community care settings. The conference is designed to assist participants in applying current gerontology research to their practice. Featured speakers are AHRQ's Senior Advisor for Women's Health Rosaly Correa-de-Araujo M.D., Ph.D., and Arlene Bierman M.D., formerly with AHRQ and now the Ontario Women's Health Council Chair at the University of Toronto St. Michael's Hospital.

5.  MEPS Data Users' Workshop

AHRQ is conducting a 2-day workshop on September 20-21 to facilitate the use of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component (MEPS-HC) public use data files on prescribed medicines and health insurance status (person-level data) by the health services research community. The workshop will provide both practical information about MEPS files and an opportunity to construct analytic files with the assistance of AHRQ staff. Enrollment is limited to a maximum of 20 participants. The workshop will be held at AHRQ's Conference Center in Rockville, MD. Select to access the Web site for program description and registration and logistical information.

6.  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.

7.  Updates Available on NGC

The Annotated Bibliographies feature of the National Guideline Clearinghouse™ was updated for the ninth time on June 30. More than 175 new citations (many with links to PubMed®, a service of the National Library of Medicine, and some with links to full-text) were added with this update. There now are nearly 3,200 guideline-related citations available in the database.

8.  Highlights from AHRQ's Most Recent Monthly Newsletter

Among the key articles in the online issue of Research Activities:

  • Researchers examine the impact of medication costs and mental health care for patients with diabetes.

Two studies led by John Piette, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan examine the impact of medication costs and mental health care for patients. The first study shows that when a diabetic patient's blood sugar levels are not sufficiently lowered with diet, exercise, and medication, they are more likely to suffer long-term complications such as blindness, limb amputation, and kidney failure. Patients who underuse their diabetes medication because they can't afford it suffer from poorer health than those for whom medication cost is not a problem. The second study describes how to integrate depression management with diabetes care for patients who suffer from both diabetes and depression.

Other articles are:

  • Study findings suggest that invasive prenatal diagnostic testing should be offered to all women.
  • Researchers examine Medicare costs and use of hospice care.
  • Radical new approaches to taking a thorough family history will be needed to meet the challenges of genetic testing.

Select to read 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.

Rubin, HR, Fink NE, Plantinga LC, et al. Patient ratings of dialysis care with peritoneal dialysis vs hemodialysis. JAMA 2004 Feb;291(6):697-703. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Dobalian A, Tsao JC, Duncan RP. Pain and the use of outpatient services among persons with HIV. Med Care 2004 Feb;42(2):129-38. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Gould CV, Fishman NO, Nachamkin I, et al. Chloramphenicol resistance in vancomycin-resistant enterococcal bacteremia: impact of prior fluoroquinolone use? Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2004 Feb;25(2):138-45. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Miranda J, Cooper LA. Disparities in care for depression among primary care patients. J Gen Intern Med 2004 Feb;19(2):120-6. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Glance LG, Dick A, Osler TM, et al. Judging trauma center quality: does it depend on the choice of outcomes? J Trauma 2004 Jan;56(1):165-72. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Cheng EM, Siderowf A, Swartztrauber K, et al. Development of quality of care indicators for Parkinson's disease. Mov Disord 2004 Feb;19(2):136-50. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Hoff T, Janeson L, Hannan E, et al. A review of the literature examining linkages between organizational factors, medical errors, and patient safety. Med Care Res Rev 2004 Mar;61(1):3-37. 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 July 2004


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