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December 6, 2000, Issue No. 18

AHRQ News and Numbers

Today's Headlines:

  1. Upcoming live Webcast of AHRQ/Kaiser Family Foundation survey results
  2. Making Quality Count grant awards
  3. What are the most common comorbidities: new chart
  4. Medical errors meeting and press conference with providers in Chicago on November 30
  5. Advanced MEPS data users' workshop
  6. Evidence report on venous thromboembolism
  7. AHRQ awards 15 new large grants
  8. Stroke PORT final report on CD-ROM
  9. Evidence report on milk thistle
  10. National Guideline Clearinghouse™ tutorial
  11. Guidelines added to the National Guideline Clearinghouse™
  12. AHRQ in the news
  13. Factoid

1.  Upcoming Live Webcast of AHRQ/Kaiser Family Foundation Survey Results

At 9:30 a.m. EST on Monday, December 11, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and AHRQ will announce the results of a national survey of Americans on the role of quality information in health care decision making and of people's opinions on medical errors and patient safety. The announcement will be Webcast live by, a free online Webcasting and news summary service of the Kaiser Family Foundation. This announcement will be made by Mollyann Brodie, PhD, Vice President and Director of Public Opinion and Media Research at KFF, and followed by a panel discussion on the implications of the findings. Select to access more information Exit Disclaimer from the Kaiser Family Foundation, as well as to see the presentation and panel discussion between 9:30 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. on Monday. The presentation and panel discussion are part of a conference on health care information that is being held on December 11-12, in Bethesda, MD.

2.  Making Quality Count Grant Awards

AHRQ issued a press release on November 21 to announce the funding of three new research projects as a result of the Agency's RFA "Making Quality Count for Consumers and Patients." Project titles are:

  • "Information About Quality in a Randomized Evaluation."
  • "Helping Elders Include Quality in Health Plan Choice."
  • "Quality Factors in Nursing Home Choice."

3.  What are the Most Common Comorbidities: New Chart

AHRQ released a new chart on November 17 showing the five most common comorbidities in hospital patients. Comorbidities are underlying illnesses that can complicate treatment of the principal diagnosis and lengthen hospital stays. This information is based on data from HCUP—Hospitalization in the United States, 1997. Select to access the electronic version. A print version is also available free of charge from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse by calling 1-800-358-9295.

4.  Medical Errors Meeting and Press Conference with Providers in Chicago on November 30

AHRQ and its partners on the Quality Interagency Coordination (QuIC) Task Force sponsored a meeting for representatives of health care provider organizations on November 30 in Chicago. The next day, on December 1, AHRQ Director John M. Eisenberg and key representatives from the discussion panels at the meeting met with reporters from the Chicago media to discuss what they heard from providers about the need for additional research on medical errors, particularly those that occur in ambulatory settings. The purpose of the November 30 meeting, which was a follow-up to the national summit on medical errors and patient safety research held in Washington on September 11, was to seek input on the key research questions that need to be answered to improve patient safety throughout the nation's health care system.

5.  Advanced MEPS Data Users' Workshop

AHRQ is sponsoring a 2-day Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) workshop, January 31-February 1, 2001, in Los Angeles titled, "Advanced MEPS Data Users' Workshop." The purpose is to facilitate the use of the MEPS Household Component public use data files by the health services research community. Day one will provide practical information about the household component survey design, file content, and the construction of analytic files. On day two, personal computers will be available on site for workshop exercises and labs. Select to access more information and registration materials.

6.  Evidence Report on Venous Thromboembolism

AHRQ announced on November 16 the availability of a summary of an evidence report by the Southern California Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC). The EPC found that only a few randomized controlled trials address venous thromboembolism in trauma patients, but based on the evidence that is available, it appears that neither low-density heparin nor low molecular weight-heparin are effective in preventing the condition that causes deep venous thrombosis and the often-fatal pulmonary embolism. Mechanical prophylaxis methods also are ineffective. Select to access the summary. Print copies of the summary are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse, 1-800-358-9295. Copies of the full report will be available early next year.

7.  AHRQ Awards 15 New Large Grants

AHRQ announced on December 5 the funding of 15 new research projects, including:

  • Hospitalization of nursing facility residents.
  • Consequences of drug cost-sharing among the elderly.
  • Patient-centered care and health care costs.
  • Computer-based guidelines to prevent sudden cardiac death.

8.  Stroke PORT Final Report on CD-ROM

AHRQ announced on November 16 the availability of the phase one final report of the patient outcomes research team (PORT) on stroke. The final report pulls together the literature review and all of the findings developed since the study was initially funded in 1991. The report includes a CD-ROM that provides complete documentation specifications for the Stroke Policy Model, a simulation model for studying the costs and outcomes of the natural history of stroke, as well as the costs and outcomes associated with various preventive or therapeutic intervention strategies. The report and CD-ROM are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at 1-800-358-9295.

9.  Evidence Report on Milk Thistle

AHRQ made available a summary of an evidence report by the Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. The EPC report addresses questions regarding whether milk thistle supplements (when compared with no supplement, placebo, other oral supplements, or drugs):

  1. Alter the physiologic markers of liver function.
  2. Reduce mortality or morbidity, or improve the quality of life in adults with alcohol-related, toxin-induced, or drug-induced liver disease, viral hepatitis, cholestasis, or primary hepatic malignancy.

Select to access the summary. Print copies of the summary are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse, 1-800-358-9295. Copies of the full report will be available early next year.

10.  National Guideline Clearinghouse™ Tutorial

As mentioned previously, AHRQ has created a tutorial on CD-ROM to help users navigate the National Guideline Clearinghouse™ (NGC), which is sponsored by AHRQ in partnership with the American Medical Association and the American Association of Health Plans. The CD-ROM tutorial, which demonstrates most of the features of the NGC, can be run with Windows® or Macintosh operating systems, using Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator browsers, with a minimum of 32 MB of RAM, and a sound card and speakers. The free CD-ROM is available by calling 1-800-358-9295 and asking for the NGC Tutorial.

11.  Guidelines Added to the National Guideline Clearinghouse™

During the month of November, 19 guidelines were added to the NGC. There are now 894 guidelines in the NGC. Select to access these guidelines and others.

  • Parameter on systemic conditions affected by periodontal diseases.
  • Genetic counseling for fragile X syndrome: Recommendations of the National Society of Genetic Counselors.
  • Parameter on comprehensive periodontal examination.
  • Parameter on periodontal maintenance.
  • Parameter on plaque-induced gingivitis.
  • Parameter on chronic periodontitis with slight to moderate loss of periodontal support.
  • Parameter on chronic periodontitis with advanced loss of periodontal support.
  • Parameter on refractory periodontitis.
  • Parameter on mucogingival conditions.
  • Parameter on acute periodontal diseases.
  • Parameter on aggressive periodontitis.
  • Parameter on placement and management of the dental implant.
  • Parameter on occlusal traumatism in patients with chronic periodontitis.
  • Pharmacologic treatment of acute major depressions and dysthymia.
  • Prevention, diagnosis and treatment of failure to progress in obstetrical labor.
  • Adult low back pain.
  • Management of type 2 diabetes mellitus.
  • Vaginal birth after cesarean.
  • Preventive services for adults.

12.  AHRQ in the News

Fernandez A, Grumbach K, Goitein L, et al. Friend or Foe? How primary care physicians perceive hospitalists.Arch Intern Med 2000 Oct 23;160(19):2902-8.

Kuppermann M, Nease RF, Learman LA, et al. Procedure-related miscarriages and Down syndrome-affected births: implications for prenatal testing based on women's preferences. Obstet Gynecol 2000 Oct;96(4):511-6.

Leaders discuss their role in patient safety. Focus Patient Safety 2000 Fall;3(4):7.

Sharma V, Simon SD, Bakewell JM, et al. Factors influencing infant visits to emergency departments. Pediatrics 2000 Nov;106(5):1031-9.

Ignagni K, Sherwood K. Managed care's influences on quality in women's health. Qual Manag Health Care 2000 Fall;9(1):59-75.

Becher EC, Halm EA, Lieberman T, et al. What are Medicare managed care plans doing to measure and improve quality of care? Qual Manag Health Care 2000 Fall;9(1):49-58.

13.  Factoid

Two of the top 10 most expensive health care conditions are traumas: spinal cord injury ($53,000) and burns ($34,000). Source: Elixhauser, A, Yu K, Steiner C, and Bierman AS. Hospitalization in the United States, 1997. Rockville MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2000. HCUP Fact Book No. 1.

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Current as of December 2000


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