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January 13, 2006, Issue No. 188

AHRQ News and Numbers

The number of Americans treated in hospitals for septicemia—a potentially deadly bacterial infection of the bloodstream also known as blood poisoning—increased from 666,000 cases in 1993 to more than 1 million cases in 2003. Inflation-adjusted hospital charges for patients admitted for septicemia climbed from $25,000 in 1993 to $34,000 in 2003—a 28 percent increase. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, HCUPnet.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. AHRQ issues third annual national reports on health care quality and disparities
  2. Better long term use of medications to treat coronary artery disease needed
  3. January issue of AHRQ WebM&M is available online
  4. New toolkit on hospital redesign strategies is available
  5. Research priorities for AHRQ highlighted in special emphasis notice
  6. Register now for National Health Policy Conference
  7. Call for abstracts due February 15 for AHRQ's Annual PBRN Research conference
  8. Women's Health Initiative Conference: A Legacy to Future Generations set for February 28-March 1
  9. 9.  AHRQ and CMS to host 10th National CAHPS® User Group meeting set for March 29-31
  10. 10.  AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  AHRQ Issues Third Annual National Reports on Health Care Quality and Disparities

AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., announced the findings of the third annual reports on the quality of and disparities in health care in America at a January 9 speech at the National Leadership Summit on Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health, sponsored by HHS' Office of Minority Health. According to the new reports—the 2005 National Healthcare Quality Report and the 2005 National Healthcare Disparities Report—disparities have widened in both quality of care and access to care for Hispanics. The reports measure and track trends in quality and disparities in four key areas of health care: effectiveness, patient safety, timeliness, and patient centeredness. Select to read our press release; the reports; view a Web cast of the summit, produced by The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation; or listen to an audio newscast about the reports that features comments from Dr. Clancy and other experts. Print copies of the reports also can be obtained by sending an E-mail to

2.  Better Long Term Use of Medications to Treat Coronary Artery Disease Needed

Use of medications to treat coronary artery disease (CAD) steadily improved between 1995 and 2002, but there is still much progress to be made, according to a recent study conducted at the AHRQ's Duke University Center for Education and Research on Therapeutics. Nearly 30 percent of CAD patients in the study did not consistently use aspirin and fewer than half reported consistent use of beta-blockers, lipid-lowering therapy, or a combination of these life-saving drugs following hospitalization. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

3.  January Issue of AHRQ WebM&M Is Available Online

The January 2006 issue of AHRQ WebM&M online patient safety journal is now available. This month's Perspectives on Safety section covers aviation and patient safety and includes an article written by Eric J. Thomas, M.D., of the University of Texas Center of Excellence for Patient Safety Research and Practice, which discusses some of the lessons learned from aviation. In addition, Jack Barker, Ph.D., a commercial airline pilot, is interviewed about his views on how the aviation perspective applies to health care. In this month's Spotlight Case, a woman suffers a cardiopulmonary arrest following surgery. Closer review reveals that a pulmonary embolism caused the arrest and that the patient had received no prophylaxis to prevent it. A second case deals with a man with left foot pain and numbness who, over the course of several weeks, is evaluated by numerous doctors, each offering a different incorrect diagnosis until the patient's fourth visit. In the third case, parents of a 5-year-old, told to give their son acetaminophen for his fever, return 2 days later because he is acutely ill due to dangerously high acetaminophen levels. Commentary authors are Nils Kucher, M.D., of the University Hospital Zurich; Lee Berkowitz, M.D., of the University of North Carolina; and James Heubi, M.D., of the University of Cincinnati. 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. Please submit cases to AHRQ WebM&M via the "Submit Case" button. All previously published commentaries are available under "Case Archive."

4.  New Toolkit on Hospital Redesign Strategies Is Available

AHRQ is making a new toolkit available to hospitals that wish to redesign their processes of care to make them safer and more efficient. The toolkit, which was prepared for AHRQ by Denver Health, a partner in AHRQ's Integrated Delivery System Research Network, presents strategies for comprehensively redesigning and transforming processes of care in a hospital. It includes a discussion of the forces that lead health care systems to embark on system transformation; a series of steps to be taken in planning for such transformation; and strategies for translating information gathered into proposed projects for implementation. Many of the techniques included in the toolkit can be used to guide process improvements without embarking on comprehensive system transformation. The information detailed in this toolkit provides an approach to redesign that was used by Denver Health with the intent to help others who wish to undertake the process of redesign or system transformation. Select for details on the toolkit.

5.  Research Priorities for AHRQ Highlighted in Special Emphasis Notice

In FY2006, AHRQ plans to emphasize research gaps regarding the care of individuals with multiple health conditions in its grants portfolio of large research grants, small research grants, and career development awards. While many studies have focused on the efficacy and effectiveness of disease-specific interventions, there has been limited work that addresses the unique needs of sicker patients-those with multiple co-morbid conditions and those in need of multiple risk-behavior interventions. For specifics on the highest research priorities for unsolicited grant applications, funding limitations, the applications process, and AHRQ staff contacts, select to read the notice in the NIH Guide.

6.  Register Now for National Health Policy Conference

AHRQ, AcademyHealth, and Health Affairs are cosponsoring the annual National Health Policy Conference on February 6-7 in Washington, DC. AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., will present the Administration's health policy agenda. Other topics to be addressed include disparities in health care, patient safety, pay for performance, the Medicare Modernization Act implementation, and more.

7.  Call for Abstracts due February 15 for AHRQ's Annual PBRN Research Conference

AHRQ has issued a call for abstracts for its annual Primary Care Practice-Based Research Networks (PBRN) Research Conference. The 2006 meeting will be held May 15-17 in Bethesda, MD. Proposals to present papers, posters, and workshops related to work conducted in a primary care PBRN are welcome from researchers, network directors, clinician members, and network staff working within a PBRN. Additionally, AHRQ will award a limited number of $750 scholarships to general conference participants and conference presenters to offset travel and other costs, especially in cases of demonstrated financial need.

8.  Women's Health Initiative Conference: A Legacy to Future Generations Set for February 28-March 1

Mark your calendar! The Women's Health Initiative is sponsoring a 2-day conference on "A Legacy to Future Generations" on February 28-March 1 at the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD. The conference features opening remarks from the nation's scientific leaders, including NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, M.D.; Vivian W. Pinn, M.D.; Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D.; William R. Harlan, M.D.; and Bernadine Healy, M.D. The program continues with presentations by Women's Health Initiative (WHI) investigators and participants who will discuss results from the three randomized trial components and the observational study. Scientific leaders from NHLBI and the WHI will comment on future research opportunities and clinical practice directions related to older women's health. Select the NHLBI Web site for more information.

9.  AHRQ and CMS to Host 10th National CAHPS® User Group Meeting Set for March 29-31

AHRQ and CMS are sponsoring the 10th National CAHPS® User Group Meeting: A Decade of Advancing Patient Centered-Care on March 29-31 in Baltimore, MD. The conference will feature presentations and discussion forums for and by users of CAHPS® surveys and data. The keynote speakers are AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., and Jennifer Daley, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at Tenet Healthcare Corporation. AHRQ's CAHPS® User Network has launched its new Web site. This site features a new look, improved navigational tools, better integration with the main AHRQ Web site, and a wealth of updated information. The new site continues to provide CAHPS® users with access to questionnaires, administration protocols and guidelines, and everything else that comprises the CAHPS® Survey and Reporting Kits.

10.  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.

Roblin DW, Platt R, Goodman MJ, et al. Effect of increased cost-sharing on oral hypoglycemic use in five managed care organizations: how much is too much? Med Care 2005 Oct;43(1):951-9. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Polsky D, Stein R, Nicholson S, et al. Employer health insurance offerings and employee enrollment decisions. Health Serv Res 2005 Oct;40(5 Pt 1):1259-78. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

McEnany GW, Lee KA. Effects of light therapy on sleep, mood, and temperature in women with nonseasonal major depression. Issues Ment Health Nurs 2005 Aug-Sep;26(7):781-94. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Rochon PA, Field TS, Bates DW, et al. Computerized physician order entry with clinical decision support in the long-term care setting: insights from the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care. J Am Geriatr Soc 2005 Oct;53(10):1780-9. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Ness RB, Trautmann G, Richter HE, et al. Effectiveness of treatment strategies of some women with pelvic inflammatory disease: a randomized trial. Obstet Gynecol 2005 Sep;106(3):264-9. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of January 2005


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