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October 29, 2004, Issue No. 152

AHRQ News and Numbers

In 1997 and 2001, more women than men reported they lost work days to provide care for a family member (25 percent versus 16 percent), as did a greater proportion of married than unmarried people (about 25 percent versus 13 percent). [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Research Findings #22: Restricted-Activity Days in the United States, 1997 and 2001.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. Limiting medical interns' work hours can reduce serious medical errors in ICUs
  2. Prehypertension is a considerable health risk for people age 45 and over
  3. National Advisory Council meeting scheduled for November 5
  4. CERTs RFA announced
  5. AHRQ's Carolyn Clancy elected new member of the Institute of Medicine
  6. Call for abstracts issued for Building Bridges Conference—deadline November 12
  7. CAHPS® User Group meeting scheduled for December 2-3
  8. New evidence report on breast cancer care in women
  9. New measures added to the National Quality Measures Clearinghouse™
  10. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  Limiting Medical Interns' Work Hours Can Reduce Serious Medical Errors In ICUs

The rate of serious medical errors committed by first-year doctors in training (interns) in two ICUs at a Boston hospital fell significantly when traditional 30-hour-in-a-row extended work shifts were eliminated, and when interns' continuous work schedule was limited to 16 hours, according to two new studies funded by AHRQ and CDC's National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. In the first study, "Effect of Reducing Interns' Work Hours on Serious Medical Errors in Intensive Care Units," led by Christopher P. Landrigan, M.D., M.P.H., and his colleagues, 24 interns were randomly assigned to work either the traditional schedule in the cardiac care unit and the intervention schedule in the medical intensive care unit or the converse from July 2002 to June 2003. The second study, "Effect of Reducing Interns' Weekly Work Hours on Sleep and Attentional Failures," led by Steven W. Lockley, Ph.D., and his colleagues, examined the impact of the new work schedule on interns' sleep patterns and "attentional failures," characterized by nodding off while on duty, even while providing care to patients. The two complementary studies were published in the October 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Select to read our press release.

2.  Prehypertension Is a Considerable Health Risk for People Age 45 and Over

Prehypertension is estimated to be responsible for 9.1 percent of U.S. deaths, 6.5 percent of nursing home stays, and 3.4 percent of hospital stays each year for people ages 25 to 74, according to new research funded by AHRQ. Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers—the systolic pressure (as the heart beats) over the diastolic pressure (as the heart relaxes between beats). Both numbers are important, but in May 2003, the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure, from NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, recommended systolic pressure, or the top number, as the better indicator of risk for other health problems. The JNC 7 identified prehypertension as having a systolic blood pressure between 120 mmHg and 139 mmHg. The article, "Effects of Prehypertension on Admissions and Deaths: A Simulation," was published in the October 25 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. Select to read our press release.

3.  National Advisory Council Meeting Scheduled for November 5

The AHRQ National Advisory Council is scheduled to meet on Friday, November 5, at the John M. Eisenberg Building in Rockville, MD. The Council will discuss these topics: National Healthcare Quality Report and the National Healthcare Disparities Report, health information technology grant awards, and a new major AHRQ outreach and dissemination initiative to translate research into practice. Select to read our press release and an overview of the Council.

4.  CERTs RFA Announced

AHRQ released a new Request for Applications (RFA) seeking grants for new Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics (CERTs). The purpose of these awards is to expand the number of CERTs research centers; address existing gaps through specific themes: therapeutic medical devices, mental health, consumers and patients, and the elderly; develop additional educational strategies to translate findings into practice, among others. AHRQ currently has seven CERTs. AHRQ intends to commit approximately $3.2 million in FY 2005 to fund four new cooperative agreements. Key dates are: technical assistance workshop and conference call—January 5, 2005; letter of intent receipt date—February 11, 2005; and deadline for application submission—March 11, 2005. Select to access the CERTs Web site for more program information. Select to read the RFA.

5.  AHRQ's Carolyn Clancy Elected New Member of the Institute of Medicine

AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., was elected to the Institute of Medicine last week. Select to read the IOM press release on the new members elected in 2004.

6.  Call for Abstracts Issued for Building Bridges Conference—Deadline November 12

You are invited to submit abstracts for the 2005 Building Bridges Conference, "Applying Evidence-based Solutions to Health Care Priorities," to be held April 6-8, 2005, in Santa Fe, NM. The deadline for submissions is Friday, November 12.

7.  CAHPS® User Group Meeting Scheduled for December 2-3

AHRQ and CMS are sponsoring a 2-day conference to be held December 2-3 at the Marriott Waterfront in Baltimore, MD. The conference, "CAHPS® Across the Health Care Continuum: The 9th National User Group Meeting," will give participants the opportunity to learn from and network with the CAHPS® consortium and your fellow CAHPS® survey users.

8.  New Evidence Report on Breast Cancer Care in Women

AHRQ released a new evidence report, Measuring the Quality of Breast Cancer Care in Women. Researchers at AHRQ's University of Ottawa Evidence-based Practice Center examined evidence on a range of measures that assess the quality of breast cancer care in women related to diagnosis, treatment, followup, and documentation of care. The researchers found only a few relevant studies; they also found that only a minority of identified quality indicators were incorporated into those studies. The report states that researchers have little confidence in the interpretability and generalizability of the results and called for more studies to validate more quality measures. Select to read the summary. A print copy of the summary and the full report are available by sending an E-mail to

9.  New Measures Added to the National Quality Measures Clearinghouse™

NQMC continues to add new and updated quality measures to its database and Web site which includes summaries of more than 500 measures from two dozen organizations and individuals. The Specification Manual for National Hospital Quality Measures was recently submitted to NQMC. Select to read the manual. This manual represents the result of efforts by the CMS and JCAHO to identify common national hospital performance measures and to share a single set of common documentation.

10.  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.

Bakken S, Hripcsak G. An informatics infrastructure for patient safety and evidence-based practice in home healthcare. J Healthc Qual 2004 May-Jun;26(3):24-30. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Seid M, Sobo EJ, Gelhard LR, et al. Parents' reports of barriers to care for children with special health care needs: development and validation of the Barriers to Care Questionnaire. Ambul Pediatr 2004 Jul-Aug;4(4):323-31. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Phillips KA, Veenstra DL, Ramsey SD, et al. Genetic testing and pharmacogenomics: issues for determining the impact to healthcare delivery and costs. Am J Manag Care 2004 Jul;10(7 Pt 1):425-32. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

He XZ, Baker DW. Changes in weight among a nationally representative cohort of adults aged 51-61, 1992 to 2000. Am J Prev Med 2004 Jul;27(1):8-15. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Atzema C, Mower WR, Hoffman JR, et al. Defining "therapeutically inconsequential" head computed tomographic findings in patients with blunt head trauma. Ann Emerg Med 2004 Jul;44(1):47-56. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of October 2004


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