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November 10, 2005, Issue No. 183

AHRQ News and Numbers

American workers with employer-provided health insurance for themselves and their families paid 79 percent more, on average, for that coverage in 2003 than they did in 1996. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Statistical Brief #60: Top 10 Outpatient Prescription Medicines Ranked by Utilization and Expenditures for the Community Population, 2002. (PDF File, 105 KB; PDF Help).]

Today's Headlines:

  1. AHRQ-funded study finds continued antibiotic overprescribing for children with sore throats
  2. AHRQ launches audio newscast
  3. More than 300 consumers attend AHRQ town hall meetings
  4. Save the date for AHRQ's 2006 Annual Health IT and Patient Safety Conference
  5. Latest issue of AHRQ WebM&M is available online
  6. AHRQ awards nearly $6.6 million for 19 IDSRN projects
  7. Most recent highlights from our monthly newsletter
  8. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  AHRQ-Funded Study Finds Continued Antibiotic Overprescribing for Children with Sore Throats

An AHRQ-funded study found that more than 50 percent of children who see the doctor for a sore throat are prescribed antibiotics; however, not all of these children needed an antibiotic. Only sore throats caused by Group A beta-hemolytic strep can be treated effectively with an antibiotic. But the research found that although the simple test for strep bacteria is performed on only 15 to 36 percent of children who have sore throats, 53 percent of them are prescribed antibiotics. Dr. Jeffrey Linder, principal investigator for the study at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, also found 27 percent of antibiotics being prescribed were much stronger and not recommended for strep in children. The antibiotics that are recommended are penicillin or amoxicillin, or erythromycin for children who are allergic to the others. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®. The study was published in the November 9 issue of JAMA. An interview with Dr. Linder about his study is included in this week's AHRQ audio newscast.

2.  AHRQ Launches Audio Newscast

AHRQ has launched a new service—audio newscasts, a new innovative tool that will provide AHRQ researchers with an opportunity to be heard beyond the research community. The weekly newscasts will be distributed through Apple iTunes®, Yahoo PodCasts®, and other Web sites that provide health information to their customers, including patients, students, employees, and health care personnel. One newscast features an interview with AHRQ patient safety researcher Dr. Ann Rogers of the University of Pennsylvania, who talked about her research on the effect of nurse fatigue on the incidence of medical errors. Select to listen to this audio newscast on your computer. This week's newscast features an interview with Dr. Jeffrey Linder of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School discussing his research on overprescribing of antibiotics to children with sore throats. Select to listen to this audio newscast. You can hear them from your computer's speakers, or you can download them to any portable digital player.

3.  More Than 300 Consumers Attend AHRQ Town Hall Meetings

AHRQ recently concluded a series of three consumer town hall meetings around the country in Chapel Hill, Oklahoma City, and Philadelphia. Overall, more than 300 participants received information on national and local efforts to improve health care quality. These consumers also received AHRQ's Guide to Health Care Quality, which gave them even more information on what they can do to become active and informed members of their health care team. AHRQ will be chronicling the information gathered from these sessions under the "Consumers & Patients" portion of its Web site, so check that area of the Web site for more information in the coming weeks.

4.  Save the Date for AHRQ's 2006 Annual Health IT and Patient Safety Conference

Save the date! The 2006 Annual Health IT and Patient Safety Conference will be held June 5-7, 2006, in Washington, DC. All of AHRQ's health IT and patient safety grantees as well as external stakeholders are invited and should plan on attending this second annual conference. This event will be held during Health IT week, in conjunction with the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, and will offer exciting opportunities for networking, receiving technical assistance, and for learning from leading experts in patient safety and health IT. Details regarding registration and abstract submissions will be available in future issues of this newsletter. Please address questions to

5.  Latest Issue of AHRQ WebM&M Is Available Online

The November issue of the AHRQ WebM&M, an online patient safety journal, is now available. This month's Perspectives on Safety section highlights the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's "100,000 Lives Campaign" and the concept of rapid response teams. The cases in this issue include one in which a nurse mistakenly administers an oral contrast solution intravenously and another in which an intern incorrectly orders 50 pills for a patient, despite a pharmacist's attempt to clarify the order. In the Spotlight Case, an elderly man admitted to the hospital is given warfarin without verifying his current dose, which leads to internal bleeding and a neurologic complication.

6.  AHRQ Awards Nearly $6.6 Million for 19 IDSRN Projects

AHRQ has awarded nearly $6.6 million for 19 projects that are funded as part of the FY 2005 Integrated Delivery System Research Network (IDSRN). The projects cover topics that include chronic care and patient centeredness, data and methods, emergency preparedness, organization and design of health care, patient safety and quality of care, and prevention. The IDSRN was developed to capitalize on the research capacity of, and research opportunities occurring within, integrated delivery systems. The network creates, supports, and disseminates scientific evidence about the effectiveness of data and measurement systems and organizational "best practices" related to care delivery and research diffusion. It also provides a cadre of delivery-affiliated researchers and sites to test ways to adapt and apply existing knowledge. Select to read the list of IDSRN projects that have been funded.

7.  Most Recent Highlights from Our Monthly Newsletter

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

  • Studies examine diabetes hospitalizations and death, diabetes self-management outcomes, and undiagnosed diabetes.

Nearly 9 percent of the U.S. population suffered from diabetes in 2002. This number continues to rise, placing more people at risk of developing diabetes complications, particularly cardiovascular disease. The first of three AHRQ-supported studies concluded that the risks of institutionalization and death attributable to diabetes are large. The second study found that patients with diabetes who used a computer program to select behavioral goals for managing their diabetes tended to make substantial behavioral changes over a 6-month period. The third study shows that two-thirds of people with undiagnosed diabetes at the time of an acute coronary syndrome were not recognized during their hospital stay.

Other articles include:

  • Study identifies factors contributing to more surgical complications among black patients.
  • Two factors predict risk for suicide attempts in youths referred for emergency psychiatric hospitalization.
  • Level of HMO penetration in a hospital's market affects the relationships between nurse staffing, length of stay, and mortality.

Select to read these articles and more.

8.  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.

Conaway DG, O'Keefe JH, Reid KJ, et al. Frequency of undiagnosed diabetes mellitus in patients with acute coronary syndrome. Am J Cardiol 2005 Aug 1;96(3):363-5. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Fiscella K, Franks P, Meldrum S, et al. Racial disparity in surgical complications in New York State. Ann Surg 2005 Aug;242(2):151-5. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Harris DM, Russell LB. Hospitalizations attributable to arthritis, smoking, and hypertension: a comparison based on NHEFS and NHANES III. Arthritis Rheum 2005 Aug 15;53(4):543-8. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Rhodes ET, Wolfsdorf JI, Cuthbertson DD, et al. Effect of low-dose insulin treatment on body weight and physical development in children and adolescents at risk for type 1 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2005 Aug;28(8):1948-53. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Kersun LS, Propert KJ, Lautenbach E, et al. Early bacteremia in pediatric hematopoietic stem cell transplant patients on oral antibiotic prophylaxis. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2005 Aug;45(2):162-9. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Epstein RM, Franks P, Fiscella K, et al. Measuring patient-centered communication in patient-physician consultations: theoretical and practical issues. Soc Sci Med 2005 Oct;61(7):1516-28. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of November 2005


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