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September 25, 2007, Issue No. 239

AHRQ News and Numbers

The number of hospital admissions for patients age 18 and under with cancer increased by more than 80 percent between 2000 and 2005—from roughly 54,000 to nearly 100,000 admissions. The increase was driven partly by a dramatic improvement in the survival rate of children with cancer. While children with cancer are increasingly treated in outpatient settings, some types of care still require hospitalization. (Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality [AHRQ], HCUP Statistical Brief #37: Pediatric Hospital Stays for Cancer, 2005 (PDF File, 187 KB; PDF Help.)

Today's Headlines

1. New guide helps consumers and employers understand health insurance
2. AHRQ Annual Conference features health care quality innovators
3. Task Force reaffirms recommendation on sickle cell disease
4. 2007 John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award recipients announced
5. Optimizing Prevention and Healthcare Management for the Complex Patient
6. Register for MEPS workshop set for November 3
7. AHRQ transitions to new E-mail subscription management system
8. September is National Preparedness month
9. Highlights from our most recent monthly newsletter
10. AHRQ in the professional literature

1. New Guide Helps Consumers and Employers Understand Health Insurance

AHRQ and America's Health Insurance Plans released Questions and Answers about Health Insurance, a new guide designed to help consumers make important health insurance decisions. The guide explains different types of health insurance, including network-based plans, non-network based coverage, and consumer-directed health plans. It also provides a glossary of health insurance terms as well as additional resources to obtain more information. A print copy is available by sending an E-mail to

AHRQ's Healthcare 411 Radiocast features AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., discussing the benefits of the new guide. Visit to listen to the 2-minute radio program or select to read the transcript.

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2. AHRQ Annual Conference Features Health Care Quality Innovators

AHRQ's annual conference on September 27 and 28 will feature the latest research findings from hundreds of health care quality improvement projects around the country, as well as presentations by public- and private-sector health care leaders. Select to access the agenda; materials from meeting presentations will be posted online following the meeting.

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3. Task Force Reaffirms Recommendation on Sickle Cell Disease

The U.S. Preventive Services Task force has reaffirmed its recommendation on screening for sickle cell disease in newborns (A recommendation). This recommendation is a reaffirmation of the 1996 Task Force recommendation on screening for hemoglobinapathies. Sickle cell anemia affects 1 in 375 African American newborns born in the United States and smaller proportions of children in other ethnic groups. There is good evidence that early detection of sickle cell anemia followed by prophylactic oral penicillin substantially reduces the risk of serious infections during the first few years of life. The Task Force found no new substantial evidence on the benefits and harms of screening for sickle cell disease in newborns, and therefore reaffirms its recommendation that all newborns be screened for sickle cell disease. Select to access the 2007 summary of the updated literature search.

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4. 2007 John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award Recipients Announced

The National Quality Forum and the Joint Commission have announced the 2007 recipients of the annual John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Awards. The honorees, by award category, were for Individual Achievement: Flaura Koplin Winston, M.D., Ph.D., the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, and Darrell A. Campbell, Jr., M.D., University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers, Ann Arbor, MI; Research: Eric J. Thomas M.D., M.P.H., The University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, TX; Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality at a National or Regional Level: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA; and Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality at the Local or Organizational Level: Evanston Northwestern Healthcare, Evanston, IL.

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5. AHRQ Issues New Funding Opportunity Announcement on Optimizing Prevention and Healthcare Management for the Complex Patient

AHRQ is seeking exploratory/developmental grant applications that propose to expand the understanding of how to optimize decisions about preventive care and management of chronic diseases in complex patients, especially in primary care. Exploratory research studies will contribute evidence to help guide the appropriate integration (i.e., prioritization, timing, provision, and coordination) of therapeutic and preventive services in individuals with multiple chronic conditions. This work should improve our understanding of which interventions provide the greatest benefit to patients with multiple conditions, how the safety and effectiveness of specific interventions may be affected by co-morbid conditions, and how interventions may need to be modified for specific patient populations with multiple conditions. This information should help clinicians better integrate care, help patients make informed decisions about health care choices, and help policymakers identify better ways to measure and promote quality care for complex patients. The deadline to submit applications is November 28. Select to read the announcement.

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6. Register Now for MEPS and HCUP Workshops at APHA; Also, Visit HCUP Poster

AHRQ will be conducting two separate workshops at the American Public Health Association (APHA) Learning Institute, in Washington, DC, on two of its data resources. On November 3, there will be a 1-day lecture workshop on the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). The purpose of this workshop is to facilitate the use of the MEPS Household Component public use data files by the health services research community. On November 4, there will be a a half-day workshop on the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), to introduce health services and policy researchers to HCUP and to resources that will enable them to apply HCUP data to their research interests. Attendees will receive a CD with information about HCUP that includes research examples using HCUP, and instructions on obtaining HCUP data and tools.

Both the MEPS and HCUP workshops are approved for continuing medical education (CME), CHES, and nursing contact hours credits. Neither workshop requires SAS experience. Both workshops require registration. Select for registration materials and more information. (MEPS is LI #1007 and HCUP is LI #2015.) The fee for the MEPS workshop is $50, and the fee for the HCUP workshop is $240.

Please contact if you have questions about the MEPS workshop, and hcup@ahrq.hhs.govif you have questions about the HCUP workshop.

Additionally, on November 5 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., within the "Statistical Analysis: Financing Health Care Cost" poster session, AHRQ will present a poster entitled "Using Administrative Data for Disease Surveillance." This poster will showcase how HCUP resources can be used in disease surveillance efforts.

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7. AHRQ's Free Notification Service Brings News and Information to Your E-mail Inbox

AHRQ will launch a free user-friendly service October 1 on its Web site allowing subscribers to receive automatic E-mail notices when there is new information about the Agency, its publications, data, and research results. AHRQ's customizable service offers up to 43 subscription items in 10 categories, so subscribers will receive notices only on topics in which they are interested. As a current subscriber to AHRQ's Electronic Newsletter, you will continue to receive the newsletter and also will be able to signup for additional information through this service. Please stay tuned for a welcome E-mail message explaining the service in detail. You will be able to access and update your account information at any time. To find a link to the new service, look for the red envelope icon under the home page banner and select "E-mail Updates" or go to

Subscribers only need to sign up for the service once; however, if their interests or E-mail addresses change, they will be able to access and update their account information at any time.

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3. September is National Preparedness Month

National Preparedness Month is a nationwide effort held each September to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses and schools. Any mass casualty event such as a natural disaster or bioterrorist attack can quickly overwhelm hospitals and health care facilities, and communication between health care systems and emergency responders can easily break down. AHRQ has developed a variety of products to assist with preparing for public health emergencies. These tools range from evidence-based guides to questionnaires and resource atlases to help State and local areas meet Federal and local requirements for public health emergency preparedness. AHRQ also has many surge capacity tools that help people locate possible alternative sites, such as nursing homes or rehab facilities that can be used for patient care if hospitals are overwhelmed during a health crisis.

AHRQ has funded more than 60 emergency preparedness-related studies, workshops, and conferences to help hospitals and health care systems prepare for public health emergencies. Select for more information about these products.

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Highlights From Our Most Recent Monthly Newsletter

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

  • How well dialysis patients view their current health at the start of hemodialysis is related to subsequent outcomes and utilization.

    Patients with end-stage renal disease undergo 3- to 4-hour hemodialysis sessions 3 days a week in order to filter out toxins that their kidneys are no longer able to filter. End-stage renal disease patients suffer from symptoms ranging from fatigue and muscle cramps to poor sleep quality and itching. They also are expected to follow a strict diet and limit fluid intake, and they take many medications every day. Better understanding of how dialysis patients view their current health at the start of dialysis may serve to provide insights for subsequent health care utilization and health outcomes.

Other articles are:

  • Rhinoviruses are associated with numerous hospitalizations of children under the age of 5 years, especially those with asthma.
  • Certain pelvic fracture patterns are more likely to cause urethral injury in men who suffer blunt trauma.
  • Pertussis vaccination in adults can be cost-effective depending on incidence rates.

Select to read these articles and others.

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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.

Grant RW, Meigs JB. Prevalence and treatment of low HDL cholesterol among primary care patients with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2007 Mar; 30(3):479-84. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Mittal V, Rosen J, Govind R, et al. Perception gap in quality-of-life ratings: an empirical investigation of nursing home residents and caregivers. Gerontologist 2007 Apr; 47(2);159-68. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Learman LA, Kuppermann M, Gates E, et al. Predictors of hysterectomy in women with common pelvic problems: a uterine survival analysis. J Am Coll Surg 2007 Apr; 204(4);633-41. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Basu J, Mobley LR. Illness severity and propensity to travel along the urban-rural continuum. Health Place 2007 Jun; 13(2):381-99. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

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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 September 2007


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


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