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October 23, 2007, Issue No. 242

AHRQ News and Numbers

The cost of having a baby, from the first prenatal visit to the baby's birth, averaged roughly $7,600 in 2004. The total includes payments for hospital childbirth, prenatal office visits, prescription medicines, and other services. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), MEPS Research Findings #27: Health Care Expenditures for Uncomplicated Pregnancies (PDF File, 377 KB; PDF Help).]

Today's Headlines

  1. Many errors by medical residents caused by teamwork breakdowns, lack of supervision
  2. AHRQ director helps consumers recognize high-quality health care in new advice column on the Web
  3. Radiocast features new study that compares heart bypass surgery with angioplasty
  4. New AHRQ evidence report on cancer family history in primary care available
  5. Highlights from our most recent monthly newsletter
  6. AHRQ in the professional literature

1. Many Errors by Medical Residents Caused by Teamwork Breakdowns, Lack of Supervision

A new AHRQ-funded study shows physicians-in-training are highly vulnerable to making medical errors that stem from teamwork breakdowns, especially a lack of supervision by experienced staff. Teamwork breakdowns involving medical residents, fellows and interns (first-year residents) also caused a significant number of errors to occur during patient handoffs, researchers found. The study, "Medical Errors Involving Trainees: A Study of Closed Malpractice Claims from 5 Insurers," appears in the October 22 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. Select to read our press release.

2. AHRQ Director Helps Consumers Recognize High-Quality Health Care in New Advice Column on the Web

New biweekly columns from AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., feature brief, easy-to-understand advice for consumers to help navigate the health care system. These Web-based columns will address important issues such as how to recognize high-quality health care; how to be an informed health care consumer; and how to choose a hospital, doctor, and health plan. Select to read Dr. Clancy's new advice column, which helps consumers identify high-quality health care.

3. Radiocast features new study that compares heart bypass surgery with angioplasty

This week's ARHQ radiocast which is distributed to over 106 radio stations discusses a new study that finds heart bypass surgery is better than angioplasty at relieving chest pain from coronary artery disease. Health services researcher and trained cardiac-thoracic surgeon Art Sedrakyan, M.D., Ph.D., explains that patients with preserved heart function and without extensive coronary disease were more likely to get relief from chest pain and less likely to need repeat procedures after coronary bypass surgery rather than balloon angioplasty with or without a stent. The review also revealed that while bypass surgery and angioplasty patients may have about the same survival rates, this needed to be studied further. Select to listen to the 2-minute radio program or select to read the transcript.

4. New AHRQ Evidence Report on Cancer Family History in Primary Care Available

AHRQ has released a new evidence report, the Collection and Use of Cancer Family History in Primary Care. Few family history tools have been developed for, and evaluated in, primary care practices. A number of risk assessment tools designed for use in primary care have been developed, but few have been evaluated in controlled trials and few have been compared with either traditional "best practice" (genetic interview) or standard primary care practice (family history as recorded in charts). Despite some limitation in the evidence, research indicates that family history tools compare favorably to best practice and significantly add to information obtained from current primary care practice. More research is needed to develop accurate, reliable assessment tools. The report was conducted by AHRQ's McMaster University Evidence-based Practice Center, and funding was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Visit to access the report (PDF Help). A print copy is available by sending an E-mail to

5. Highlights From Our Most Recent Monthly Newsletter

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

  • Researchers examine link between trauma and alcohol problems as well as cardiovascular risk factors among American Indians.

    Growing evidence suggests a link between trauma and the development of alcohol disorders. American Indians experience more traumas and alcohol disorders than the general population. A recently published study found that 16 percent of American Indian adolescents and young adults have suffered from three or more traumas and 26 percent were diagnosed with alcohol use disorders. A second study of older American Indians found that several risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease increase as older American Indians age.

Other articles include:

  • Studies show lower colorectal cancer screening rates and access to surgery among the poor, minority, and uninsured.
  • Low blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids predicts increased risk for acute coronary syndrome.
  • Educational outreach to individual physicians to improve antihypertensive drug prescribing can reduce drug costs.

Select to read these articles and others.

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.

Stewart AL, Nápoles-Springer AM, Gregorich SE, et al. Health Serv Res 2007 Jun; 42(3 Pt 1):1235-56. Interpersonal processes of care survey: patient-reported measures for diverse groups. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Peters E, Hibbard J, Slovic P, et al. Numeracy skill and the communication, comprehension, and use of risk-benefit information. Health Aff 2007 May-Jun; 26(3):741-8. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Yelin E, Trupin L, Katz P, et al. Impact of health maintenance organizations and fee-for-service on health care utilization among people with systemic lupus erythematosus. Arthritis Rheum 2007 Apr 15; 57(3):508-15. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Sangvai S, Cipriani L, Colborn DK, et al. Studying injury prevention: practices, problems, and pitfalls in implementation. Clin Pediatr 2007 Apr; 46(3):228-35. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Langfitt JT, McDermott MP, Messing S, et al. Health care costs decline after successful epilepsy surgery. Neurology 2007 Apr 17; 68(16):1290-98. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

AHRQ Electronic Newsletter Contact Information

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Current as of October 2007


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