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April 1, 2005, Issue No. 163

AHRQ News and Numbers

Overall, about 95 percent of families had some health care expenses in 2002, and the total expenses for these families averaged $6,928. The average amount of expenses paid out-of-pocket per family was $2,321. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Statistical Brief #64: Family Health Care Expenses, by Income Level, 2002 (PDF File, 356 KB; PDF Help).]

Today's Headlines:

  1. AHRQ Director issues new quality challenge
  2. AHRQ announces new vice-chair and members of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
  3. Free AHRQ Webcast on using CAHPS® to improve patient care set for April 6
  4. Call for nominations for 2005 John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Awards program
  5. Telephone briefing on hospital patient safety culture survey set for April 22
  6. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  AHRQ Director Issues New Quality Challenge

In case you won't be able to attend AHRQ's April 4 national meeting in Washington, DC, "Improving Health Care for All Americans: Celebrating Success, Measuring Progress, Moving Forward," please check the AHRQ Web site to find out more about the challenge that AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., plans to issue to the more than 200 meeting attendees. Dr. Clancy will urge leading health care experts to work together to accept a new quality challenge to ensure that "every dollar we invest in health care buys a dollar's worth of value... so that Americans don't just have the best health care in the world, they actually get the best quality health care, consistently, in their own hospitals and physicians' offices."

In addition, in conjunction with the meeting, AHRQ will release State-level health care quality data compilations based on the congressionally mandated 2004 National Healthcare Quality Report to help State health officials more easily identify areas where they are doing well and those where quality improvement is necessary. A summary of the meeting, which is designed to showcase successful national, regional, and local efforts to improve health care quality and reduce racial and ethnic disparities, will be posted on the AHRQ Web site following the meeting, and more details will be featured in upcoming issues of this Electronic Newsletter. In addition, late-breaking news from the summit will be featured in a special issue of AHRQ's Patient Safety E-Newsletter next week.

2.  AHRQ Announces New Vice-Chair and Members of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

AHRQ announced five new members and a new vice-chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The Task Force, sponsored by AHRQ, is the leading independent panel of private-sector experts in prevention and primary care and conducts rigorous, impartial assessments of the scientific evidence for a broad range of preventive services. Diana Petitti, M.D., M.P.H., a member of the Task Force for the past year, became vice-chair in January, replacing former vice-chair Janet Allan, Ph.D., R.N. The current Task Force chair is Bruce Nedrow (Ned) Calonge, M.D., M.P.H. The five new members are Thomas DeWitt, M.D.; Kenneth Kizer, M.D., M.P.H.; Michael LeFevre, M.D., M.S.P.H.; Lucy Marion, Ph.D., R.N.; and George Sawaya, M.D. Select to read our press release and to access more information about the Task Force.

3.  Free AHRQ Webcast on Using CAHPS® to Improve Patient Care Set for April 6

On April 6, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., EST, AHRQ, together with Westat, will host a live Webcast on "Improving Patient Care: How Medical Practices Are Using New CAHPS® Surveys for Ambulatory Settings." The Webcast is geared toward representatives of medical groups and other organizations interested in improving quality at the level of medical groups and individual clinicians. Speakers will include Susan Edgman-Levitan, P.A., Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA; Dana Gelb Safran, Sc.D., Tufts-New England Medical Center, Boston, MA; Richard Marshall, M.D., Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, Boston, MA; and Charles J. Hipp, M.D., and Lawrence E. Morrissey, M.D., Stillwater Medical Group, Stillwater, MN. These experts and practitioners will share what they have learned about successfully using surveys to improve patient care and overcoming the obstacles inherent in survey implementation.

4.  Call for Nominations for 2005 John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Awards Program

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and the National Quality Forum are now accepting nominations for the 2005 John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Awards, which recognize individuals and health care organizations that are making significant contributions to improving health care quality and patient safety. The deadline for submissions is May 27. Questions about the awards may be directed to or

5.  Telephone Briefing on Hospital Patient Safety Culture Survey Set for April 22

Save the date! On Friday, April 22, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. EST, AHRQ will host its third and final technical assistance telephone briefing on the Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture. This briefing, "Taking Action," will address how to communicate survey results throughout the hospital, prioritize and plan actions, and accountability for change. Speakers, who include experts in survey action planning and hospital quality initiatives, will answer your questions during a 30-minute question-and-answer session at the end of the call. Please register for this toll-free call by sending your first name and last name in the body of an E-mail to The call-in number, pass code, and materials will be sent to you prior to the call. The Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture is currently available online. Printed copies may be obtained by sending an E-mail to or calling 1-800-358-9295.

6.  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.

Wang HE, Peitzman AB, Cassidy LD, et al. Out-of-hospital endotracheal intubation and outcome after traumatic brain injury. Ann Emerg Med 2004 Nov;44(5):439-50. Select to access the abstract on Puids=®.

Hu KK, Veenstra DL, Lipsky BA, et al. Use of maximal sterile barriers during central venous catheter insertion: clinical and economic outcomes. Clin Infect Dis 2004 Nov 15;39(10):1441-5. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Manber R, Schnyer RN, Allen JJ, et al. Acupuncture: a promising treatment for depression during pregnancy. J Affect Disord 2004 Nov 15;83(1):89-95. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Manson S, Garroutte E, Goins R, et al. Access, relevance, and control in the research process: lessons from Indian Country. J Aging Health 2004 Nov;16(5 Suppl):58S-77S. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Vargas RB, Davis RB, McCarthy EP, et al. Racial and ethnic differences in utilization of health services in patients with diabetes enrolled in Medicaid. J Health Care Poor Underserved 2004 Nov;15(4):562-75. 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 April 2005


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