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April 14, 2005, Issue No. 165

AHRQ News and Numbers

In 2002, the average total health care expenses for couples and other two-person families were about $8,300, approximately $1,000 higher than for larger families. Two-person families are substantially more likely to have an elderly member than larger families, which may contribute to their higher-than-average expenses. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Statistical Brief #63: Family Health Care Expenses, by Size of Family, 2002 (PDF File, 340 KB; PDF Help).]

Today's Headlines:

  1. AHRQ launches new Web site designed to provide single National source for patient safety findings and resources
  2. Latest issue of AHRQ WebM&M is available
  3. HCUP and MEPS seminar set for May 11
  4. Highlights from the most recent edition of our monthly newsletter
  5. New AHRQ publication focuses on women's health research findings
  6. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  AHRQ Launches New Web Site Designed To Provide Single National Source for Patient Safety Findings and Resources

AHRQ announced a new Web site, Patient Safety Network, or PSNet—a National "one-stop" portal of resources for improving patient safety and preventing medical errors. PSNet is the first comprehensive effort to help health care providers, administrators, and consumers learn about all aspects of patient safety. The site provides a wide variety of information on patient safety resources, tools, conferences, and more. PSNet users can customize the site around their unique interests and needs by creating a "My PSNet" page. In addition, weekly PSNet updates are available to subscribers on patient safety findings, literature, tools, and conferences, as well as a carefully annotated collection of sentinel patient safety journal articles in a "Classics" section. Select to read our press release or to access the PSNet site at

2.  Latest Issue of AHRQ WebM&M Is Available

The latest issue of the AHRQ WebM&M online patient safety journal is now available on PSNet. The site has been redesigned and enhanced-there are now three monthly cases; but many new features have been added, including "Perspectives on Safety," conversations with newsmakers, and more. This issue features an interview with Dr. Chris Landrigan, lead author of the recent AHRQ-sponsored New England Journal of Medicine study on the safety impact of reducing resident duty hours. The April cases include one in which a physician discontinues daily glucose checks and insulin sliding scale orders without realizing that the patient was continuing to receive long-acting insulin injections and is found, 4 days later, unresponsive and hypoglycemic; and a patient with presumed stroke is given a clot-dissolving drug before her blood coagulation test results are known, and 5 minutes later, the lab report indicates an absolute contraindication to thrombolytic therapy. The Spotlight case, a patient with a presumed small bowel obstruction undergoes a contrast-enhanced CT scan and as a result, develops acute renal failure requiring dialysis. 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. Please continue to submit cases to AHRQ WebM&M and explore the site—all previously published commentaries are available under "Case Archive."

3.  HCUP and MEPS Seminar Set for May 11

The Society of General Internal Medicine and AHRQ are sponsoring a seminar to be held May 11 in New Orleans, LA, to provide health services researchers with a practical understanding of the scope and availability of large databases and comprehensive tools. Presenters will provide researchers with a comprehensive overview of the design, use, advantages, limitations, and linkages of two large administrative and survey datasets: the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). Several tools that can be applied to the databases or used to generate information about health care will also be described (e.g. CAHPS®, AHRQ's Quality Indicators, MEPSnet, HCUPnet). Presentations will include both didactic and interactive portions. Participants will receive detailed packets of information about HCUP, MEPS, and an assortment of tools.

4.  Highlights From the Most Recent Edition of Our Monthly Newsletter

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

  • Skipping meals or breaks may contribute to nurse burnout and jeopardize nurses' health.

    A new AHRQ-funded study suggests that nurses are regularly sacrificing their breaks and meal periods to provide patient care. The researchers found that nurses took a break or ate a meal free of patient care responsibilities in less than half (47 percent) of the shifts they worked over a 1-month period. During the remaining shifts, they either worked nonstop throughout the entire shift (10 percent of shifts) or were able to sit down for only a short period, while remaining responsible for patient care activities during their breaks or meals (43 percent of shifts).

Other articles are:

  • Enhanced CT performs better than unenhanced CT in predicting extent of damaged brain tissue in acute stroke patients.
  • Pharmacy data can help public health officials identify TB cases and assess their management by private-sector physicians.
  • Primary care providers miss opportunities during office visits for adult preventive care.
  • Combined video and computer game use outpaces daily TV viewing among preadolescents.

Select to read these articles and others.

5.  New AHRQ Publication Focuses on Women's Health Research Findings

Women's Health Highlights: Recent Findings

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.

Lee GM, Lett S, Schauer S, et al. Societal costs and morbidity of pertussis in adolescents and adults. Clin Infect Dis 2004 Dec 1;39(11):1572-80. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Choi J, Bakken S, Larson E, et al. Perceived nursing work environment of critical care nurses. Nurs Res 2004 Nov-Dec;53(6):370-8. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Bagchi A, Sambamoorthi U, McSpiritt E, et al. Use of antipsychotic medications among HIV-infected individuals with schizophrenia. Schizophr Res 2004 Dec 1;71(2-3):435-44. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Persell SC, Heiman HL, Weingart SN, et al. Understanding of drug indications by ambulatory care patients. Am J Health Syst Pharm 2004 Dec 1;61(23):2523-7. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Solomon DH, Brookhart MA, Gandhi TK, et al. Adherence with osteoporosis practice guidelines: a multilevel analysis of patient, physician, and practice setting characteristics. Am J Med 2004 Dec 15;117(12):919-24. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Ghetti C, Chan BK, Guise JM. Physicians' responses to patient-requested cesarean delivery. Birth 2004 Dec;31(4):280-4. 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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