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July 1, 2005, Issue No. 172

AHRQ News and Numbers

In 2002, hospital stays for moms and their newborn babies accounted for nearly one in four hospital stays in the United States. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, HCUPnet.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. Dr. Clancy testifies on AHRQ's health information technology research portfolio
  2. Publication highlights findings from AHRQ's patient safety research portfolio
  3. AHRQ releases 2003 hospital data
  4. New Fact Book, Hospitalization in the United States, 2002, available
  5. New evidence report on acute bacterial rhinosinusitis available
  6. 2005 PBRN Annual Research meeting set for July 21-22
  7. Most recent highlights from our monthly newsletter
  8. New AHRQ publication available
  9. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  Dr. Clancy Testifies on AHRQ's Health Information Technology Research Portfolio

On June 30, AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., testified before the Senate Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Technology, Innovation, and Competitiveness on how health information technology can reduce medical errors, lower health care costs, and improve the quality of patient care. Dr. Clancy noted that for nearly three decades, AHRQ has funded the basic science of health IT by supporting the pioneers and innovators. She explained that health IT alone cannot provide the improvements needed in our health care system, but that improvements will depend on the integration of high-quality health IT into individual clinical practices, hospitals, and other settings. "To accelerate the pace of health IT adoption and implementation, we must ensure that best practices and new knowledge and experience are disseminated widely in order to maximize the potential for quality improvement as well as reduce economic risk," Dr. Clancy said. Select to read Dr. Clancy's testimony.

2.  Publication Highlights Findings from AHRQ's Patient Safety Research Portfolio

AHRQ has produced a new program brief that highlights key findings from the Agency's patient safety research portfolio. The publication, Patient Safety Research in Progress, features tools, products, and findings from dozens of AHRQ patient safety projects that have been under way since 2001. The program brief includes Web links to tools as well as journal article citations for readers who want to find out more about these important resources. Topic areas covered include medication safety, the impact of provider fatigue on patient safety, event reporting, education and training, communication and patient support, and much more. Select to read the program brief. A print copy is available by sending an E-mail to

3.  AHRQ Releases 2003 Hospital Data

AHRQ released the 2003 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, which is the largest all-payer, inpatient care database in the United States. Data can be used to identify, track, and analyze national and regional trends in health care utilization, access, charges, quality, and outcomes. The database approximates a 20 percent sample of community hospitals in the United States. It contains administrative discharge records drawn from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project State Inpatient Databases, a resource that features about 90 percent of all U.S. community hospital discharges. Using a stratified, random sampling design, AHRQ selects a sample of community hospitals from the state databases, and includes 100 percent of the discharges from those hospitals in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample. The 2003 Nationwide Inpatient Sample includes 8 million discharge records from nearly 1,000 hospitals and includes data drawn from 37 States. The 2003 national database also features a reconstructed variable that identifies whether a patient lives in a rural or urban area based on the patient's ZIP code. For more information about the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, including how to obtain data, please refer to the HCUP Web site.

4.  New Fact Book, Hospitalization in the United States, 2002, Available

AHRQ released the HCUP Fact Book #6: Hospitalization in the United States, 2002. The fact book provides hundreds of national estimates for 2002, as well as 6-year trend data, to explain who is admitted to the hospital and why, how patients are admitted, how much hospitals charge, who is billed for hospital care, and how patients are discharged from the hospital. Among the statistics are that total aggregate charges for hospitalizations in 2002 reached $650 billion, aggregate charges for hospitalizations paid by Medicaid increased the most between 1997 and 2002 (by 47 percent), and admissions through the emergency department increased nearly 18 percent. The fact book uses data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, one of the family of databases that make up the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. Select to read the fact book. A print copy is available by sending an E-mail to

5.  New Evidence Report on Acute Bacterial Rhinosinusitis Available

AHRQ released an update to a 1999 evidence report on treating acute bacterial rhinosinusitis. The update indicates that antibiotics were more effective than a placebo, but about two-thirds of the patients receiving placebos recovered without antibiotics. Amoxicillin-clavulanate was more effective than cephalosporin within 10-24 days of treatment, but 24-45 days after treatment any difference was not significant. The researchers also found no significant differences between other classes of antibiotics but noted that there is a lack of studies comparing newer antibiotics with inexpensive ones like amoxicillin and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole. This report was prepared by AHRQ's Tufts-New England Medical Center Evidence-based Practice Center. This report was jointly requested by the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American College of Physicians. Select to read the summary, Update on Acute Bacterial Rhinosinusitis. A print copy of the summary and the full report are available by sending an E-mail to

6.  2005 PBRN Annual Research Meeting Set for July 21-22

AHRQ is sponsoring its 2005 Annual Research Meeting: Putting Practice into Research and Research into Practice to be held July 21-22 at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC. The purpose of the conference is to support the growth and development of AHRQ's Primary Care Practice-Based Research Networks (PBRNs). Select to access the Web site for the agenda and more information. The conference will have sessions on research methods, health information technology, and network development and coordination in addition to presentations on recently completed PBRN research and best practices. The registration deadline has been extended through July 11.

7.  Most Recent Highlights from Our Monthly Newsletter

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

  • Missing clinical information during primary care visits is commonplace and can adversely affect patient care.

Missing information leads to a waste of time and resources, and it may adversely affect patients. For example, in 60 percent of primary care visits with missing clinical information, clinicians reported that the lack of data was likely to result in either a delay in care or duplicate medical services. In 44 percent of such visits, physicians believed that the patients' well-being was likely to be placed at risk.

Other articles are:

  • A delay of 2 or more days in surgical repair of hip fracture substantially increases mortality rates.
  • Use of an interactive computer program can help patients and staff improve diabetes care in primary care practices.
  • Blacks and Latinos with hypertension have trouble adhering to recommended diets.

Select to read these articles and others.

8.  New AHRQ Publication Available

Fact sheet on Women's Health Care in the United States.

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.

Wei W, Sambamoorthi U, Olfson M, et al. Use of psychotherapy for depression in older adults. Am J Psychiatry 2005 Apr; 162(4):711-7. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Baker DW, Sudano JJ. Health insurance coverage during the years preceding Medicare eligibility. Arch Intern Med 2005 Apr 11;165(7):770-6. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

McCabe M, Morgan F, Curley H, et al. The informed consent process in a cross-cultural setting: is the process achieving the intended result? Ethn Dis 2005 Spring;15(2):300-4. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Wyrwich KW, Tierney WM, Babu AN, et al. A comparison of clinically important differences in health-related quality of life for patients with chronic lung disease, asthma, or heart disease. Health Serv Res 2005 Apr;40(2):577-91. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Mushlin Al, Kern LM, Paris M, et al. The value of diagnostic information to patients with chest pain suggestive of coronary artery disease. Med Decis Making 2005 Mar-Apr;25(2):149-57. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of July 2005


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