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May 21, 2007, Issue No. 229

AHRQ News and Numbers

Spending for medications prescribed in outpatient settings increased from $72 billion in 1997 to $191 billion in 2004. (Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Trends in Outpatient Prescription Drug Utilization and Expenditures, 1997 and 2004, MEPS Statistical Brief No. 168) (PDF File, 108 KB; PDF Help).

Today's Headlines:

1. AHRQ Publishes Landmark Federal Handbook on the Use of Patient Registries
2. Latest Issue of AHRQ WebM&M Available Online
3. Nominations for New Members of National Advisory Council for Healthcare Research and Quality Are Due June 15
4. Highlights From Our Most Recent Monthly Newsletter
5. Calling All AHRQ Researchers! "Help Us to Help You."
6. AHRQ in the Professional Literature

1. AHRQ Publishes Landmark Federal Handbook on the Use of Patient Registries

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has released a new handbook that represents a groundbreaking Federal initiative to help researchers and others use patient registries to evaluate the real-life impact of health care treatments.

A patient registry is a database of confidential patient information that can be analyzed to understand and compare the outcomes and safety of health care. The data may originate from multiple sources, including hospitals, pharmacy systems, physician practices, and insurance companies. Some registries include patients who have the same disease. Others are comprised of patients who have undergone a common surgical procedure or received a newly approved medication.

The new 219-page document, Registries for Evaluating Patient Outcomes: A User's Guide, is the first government-supported handbook for establishing, managing, and analyzing patient registries. Select to access our press release. The guide is downloadable from AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program Web site and soon will be available in two printed forms—as the full-length document and as a 13-page summary that includes the best practices checklist. Print copies will be available by sending an E-mail to

Visit to join the Effective Health Care program's LISTSERV® and receive notifications when items of interest become available for review or public comment.

2. Latest Issue of AHRQ WebM&M Available Online

The May issue of AHRQ WebM&M is now available online. This month, the Perspectives on Safety section focuses on international viewpoints on safety. There is an interview with Sir Liam Donaldson, M.D., M.Sc., England's Chief Medical Officer and founding chair of the World Health Organization's World Alliance for Patient Safety. Susan Burnett and Charles Vincent, Ph.D., also discuss the evolution and progress of patient safety in the United Kingdom.

In the first Spotlight Case, an elderly man with seizures was admitted to the hospital due to lethargy, confusion, and decreased appetite. The team misattributed his mental status change to an infection but later discovered that the patient had phenytoin toxicity. Brian Alldredge, Pharm.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, discusses the challenges of safe use of antiepileptic medications. In the second case, on the day of a patient's scheduled electroconvulsive therapy, the clinic anesthesiologist called in sick. Unprepared for an absence, the staff asked the very busy operating room anesthesiologist to fill in, and a medication error occurred. The case demonstrates the ever-present tension between patient safety and "production pressures." In the third case, a young woman with a vascular condition that can cause blood pressure differences in each arm was mistakenly placed on a powerful intravenous vasopressor because of a spurious low blood pressure reading. The medication could have led to serious complications. Commentary authors are Pascale Carayon, Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Elizabeth Henneman, R.N., Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts School of Nursing.

A Spotlight slide presentation is available for download. As always, you can receive continuing medical education (CME), , continuing education units (CEU), or trainee certification by taking the Spotlight Quiz. All previously published commentaries are available under "Case Archive." Please submit cases to AHRQ WebM&M via the "Submit Case" button.

3. Nominations for New Members of National Advisory Council for Healthcare Research and Quality Are Due June 15

AHRQ is currently seeking nominations for seven new public members for its National Advisory Council for Healthcare Research and Quality, which advises the Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and the Director of AHRQ on matters related to actions of the Agency to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans. The 21-member Council meets in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, generally in Rockville, MD, approximately three times a year. Members generally serve 3-year terms, and new members will start their service in the spring of 2008.

AHRQ is seeking individuals who are distinguished in the conduct of research, demonstration projects, and evaluations with respect to health care; in the fields of health care quality research or health care improvement; in the practice of medicine or other health professions; in the private health care sector (including health plans, providers, purchasers) or administrators of health care delivery systems; in the fields of health care economics, information systems, law, ethics, business, or public policy; and in representing the interests of patients and consumers of health care. Nominations are due June 15 and should be mailed to Deborah Queenan, AHRQ, 540 Gaither Road, Room 3238, Rockville, MD 20850 or faxed to her at (301) 427-1341. Select to review the May 7 Federal Register notice.

4. Highlights From Our Most Recent Monthly Newsletter

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

Clinic-based and community-based strategies can promote the use of key preventive services by Latina women.
Latina women and their young children use fewer preventive health services and have a higher incidence of preventable diseases than Whites. Clinic-based and community-based strategies such as use of promotoras, lay health advisors recruited from the Latino community, can increase the use of key preventive health services by Latina women. Select to review this article.

Other articles include:

  • Tympanometric findings can indicate the probability of middle ear disease in children under age 3.
  • Automated piggyback infusion of intravenous drugs is neither simple nor safe.
  • Individual who reside in area with high median household income have better rates of melanoma survival.
  • Primary care doctors consider several factors when deciding whether to counsel a patient about obesity.

Select to access these articles and more.

5. Calling All AHRQ Researchers! "Help Us to Help You."

As you may know, AHRQ can help you promote the findings of your research, but we can't do it without you. AHRQ has been successful in working with our grantees and contractors to promote findings to the media and to transfer knowledge based on the research to appropriate audiences in the health care community. However, we know that we can do better. We need you to notify us when you have an article accepted for publication.

Please send a copy of the manuscript, anticipated publication date, and contact information for the journal and your institution's public relations office to your AHRQ project officer and to AHRQ Public Affairs at Your manuscript will be reviewed to determine what level of marketing we will pursue. Please be assured that AHRQ always honors the journal embargo. Thank you for your cooperation.

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.

Zapka JG, Carter R, Carter CL, et al. Care at the end of life: focus on communication and race. J Aging Health 2006 Dec;18(6):791-813. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Miller SC, Papandonatos G, Fennell M, et al. Facility and county effects on racial differences in nursing home quality indicators. Soc Sci Med 2006 Dec;63(12):3046-59. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Angus DC, Clermont G, Linde-Zwirble WT, et al. Healthcare costs and long-term outcomes after acute respiratory distress syndrome: a phase III trial of inhaled nitric oxide. Crit Care Med 2006 Dec;34(12):2883-90. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Burke LE, Kim Y, Senuzun F, et al. Evaluation of the shortened Cholesterol-Lowering Diet Self-Efficacy Scale. Eur J Cardiovasc Nurs 2006 Dec;5(4):264-74. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Cowper PA, DeLong ER, Hannan EL, et al. Trends in postoperative length of stay after bypass surgery. Am Heart J 2006 Dec; 152(6);1194-1200. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

If you are a new subscriber or would like to reference information in a previous issue, an archive of this newsletter can be found on AHRQ's Web site at

Contact Information

Please address comments and questions to Nancy Comfort at or (301) 427-1866.

Current as of May 2007


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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