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July 30, 2004, Issue No. 143

AHRQ News and Numbers

From 1993 to 2002, the number of discharges for non-hypertensive congestive heart failure increased from 945,000 to 1.06 million. Average length of stay decreased from 7.4 days to 5.6 days during this period. Average total charges per discharge increased from $11,000 to almost $21,000. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, HCUP Nationwide Inpatient Sample, 1993-2002, HCUPnet.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. New AHRQ bioterrorism preparedness tool available
  2. Latest issue of AHRQ WebM&M is now online
  3. Updated AHRQ Child Health Toolbox now on the Web
  4. New evidence report on improving minority health care quality available
  5. New evidence report on multiple sclerosis available
  6. Register now for Third Annual Patient Safety Research Conference
  7. AcademyHealth Annual Research meeting presentations available
  8. AHRQ in the professional literature

1. New AHRQ Bioterrorism Preparedness Tool Available

AHRQ released a new tool to help State and local officials quickly locate alternate health care sites if hospitals are overwhelmed by patients due to a bioterrorism attack or other public health emergency. The alternate care site selection tool is being shared with emergency response planners at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. The new tool was produced by Denver Health, one of AHRQ's Integrated Delivery System Research Network (IDSRN) partners. AHRQ's IDSRN program links the Nation's top researchers with some of the largest health care systems to conduct fast-track research on cutting-edge issues in health care. The alternate care site selection tool is included in a new report entitled Rocky Mountain Regional Care Model for Bioterrorist Events. Select to read the press release and to download the report and tool.

2. Latest Issue of AHRQ WebM&M Is Now Online; Nurse Continuing Education Credits Now Available

The latest issue of the AHRQ WebM&M online patient safety journal is now available. With this month's issue, nurses are now able to obtain Continuing Education (CE) credit. Select to access the CME portion of the Web site for registration and accreditation information. This month's cases include a man sent for a Holter monitor to record heart rhythm who receives a skin test instead; a woman found unresponsive after completing her bowel prep for colonoscopy; a misdiagnosis of migraine that led a patient with a sudden onset headache to nearly die; and signout flaws that caused a non-diabetic hospitalized woman to be given several rounds of insulin and concentrated dextrose after repeated blood tests showed her glucose to be dangerously high, then dangerously low. This month's Spotlight case discusses the controversies surrounding appropriate use of novel drugs when, following a motor vehicle collision, a patient is mistakenly given drotrecogin alfa (activated) for organ failure not due to sepsis. As always, the Spotlight case includes a downloadable set of slides. By completing the Spotlight quiz, physicians can receive CME credit, nurses can obtain CEUs, and trainees can receive certification in patient safety. Cases and CME/CE 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.

3. Updated AHRQ Child Health Toolbox Now on the Web

AHRQ recently revised its Child Health Toolbox, a Web-based resource on children's health care quality and other performance measures, to include information about quality measures for mental and behavioral health services that apply to children and adolescents. The Toolbox is designed to be useful to State and local policymakers, child advocates, and others concerned about the quality of children's health care. The Toolbox provides concepts, tips, and tools for evaluating quality of health care in Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Title V, and other health care service programs for children. Select to access the Toolbox.

4. New Evidence Report on Improving Minority Health Care Quality Available

A new AHRQ report, Strategies for Improving Minority Healthcare Quality, shows that there is excellent evidence that suggests provider tracking and reminder systems are effective in improving the quality of care for racial and ethnic minority patients. Additionally, evidence shows that cultural competence training can increase the knowledge and improve the attitudes and skills of health care providers. However, the researchers found it difficult to conclude which specific types of training interventions are effective in improving particular outcomes. Even within an outcome category, there is no uniformity in outcome measurement, making it difficult to determine which specific types of knowledge, attitudes, or skills are affected by cultural competence training. Select to access the summary. Print copies of the summary and the report are available by sending an E-mail to

5. New Evidence Report on Multiple Sclerosis Available

AHRQ, in partnership with the Social Security Administration, released a new evidence report, Criteria to Determine Disability Related to Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The primary goal of the review was to examine the evidence in the medical literature for data that can guide policy in determining disability in MS patients. AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Center at Duke University in Durham, NC, found that certain criteria identified a high proportion of patients who will go on to develop clinically definite multiple sclerosis over 1-4 years with a specificity of 83 percent to 87 percent. Select to access the summary. Print copies of the summary are available by sending an E-mail to

6. Register Now for Third Annual Patient Safety Research Conference

Register now for AHRQ's "Third Annual Patient Safety Research Conference: Making the Health Care System Safer" to be held September 26-28 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA.

7. AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting Presentations Available

View more than 430 slide presentations from the 2004 AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting held June 6-8 in San Diego. Nearly 2,000 health services researchers, policymakers and providers convened at this AHRQ-supported meeting to showcase their latest research findings, debate health policy issues, and network with colleagues.

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.

Gresenz CR, Rogowski J, Escarce JJ. Updated variable-radius measures of hospital competition. Health Serv Res 2004 Apr;39(2):417-30. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Wyrwich KW, Spertus JA, Kroenke K, et al. Clinically important differences in health status for patients with heart disease: an expert consensus panel report. Am Heart J 2004 Apr;147(4):615-22. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Wells K, Sherbourne C, Schoenbaum M, et al. Five-year impact of quality improvement for depression: results of a group-level randomized controlled trial. Arch Gen Psychiatry 2004 Apr;61(4):378-86. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Roberts J, Hunter L, Gravel J, et al. Otitis media, hearing loss, and language learning: controversies and current research. J Dev Behav Pediatr 2004 Apr 14;291(14):1744-52. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Hughes RG. First, do no harm. Avoiding the near misses. Am J Nurs 2004 May;104(5):81-4. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Lee JY, Rozier RG, Norton EC, et al. Effects of WIC participation on children's use of oral health services. Am J Public Health 2004 May;94(5):772-7. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Zou KH, Wells, WM, Kikinis R, et al. Three validation metrics for automated probabilistic image segmentation of brain tumors. Stat Med 2004 Apr 30;23(8):1259-82. 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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