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February 5, 2008, Issue No. 249

AHRQ News and Numbers

Epilepsy-related hospitalizations, which fell from 176,000 in 1993 to 95,000 in 2000, climbed to 136,000 in 2005. The recent 5-year climb represented a 43 percent increase. Epilepsy, a condition characterized by recurrent seizures that may include repetitive muscle jerking called convulsions, affects 1 to 2 percent of the U.S. population. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), HCUP Statistical Brief #46: Hospitalizations for Epilepsy and Convulsions, 2005.]

Today's Headlines

  1. HHS Secretary awards health leaders with special distinction for improving quality and value of health care
  2. Outcomes vary for prostate cancer patients choosing surgery; overall, no treatment proven superior
  3. New study finds infectious diseases hospitalized more than a quarter million infants
  4. AHRQ launches new consumer-oriented video on communicating with your doctor
  5. Latest issue of AHRQ's WebM&M is available online
  6. Free audio conference on consumer financial incentives set for March 13
  7. IOM meeting to improve patient safety set for March 4-5
  8. Podcast on preparing for elective surgery
  9. AHRQ in the professional literature

1. HHS Secretary Awards Health Leaders with Special Distinction for Improving Quality and Value of Health Care

The Department of Health & Human Services' (HHS') Secretary Mike Leavitt recognized 14 communities with a special federal distinction for their strong commitment to improving quality and value in health care. The Secretary designated these partnerships of providers, employers, insurers, and consumers as the country's first Chartered Value Exchanges (CVE) for their work to implement cutting-edge, collaborative methods to transform health care at the local level. As Chartered Value Exchanges, communities will have access to information from Medicare that gauges the quality of care physicians provide to patients. In addition, these communities will join a nationwide Learning Network sponsored by AHRQ. This network will provide peer-to-peer learning experiences through facilitated meetings, both face-to-face and on the Web. Access to HHS experts and new tools, including an ongoing private Web-based knowledge management system, are added benefits of CVE status. The Chartered Value Exchanges are:

  • Wisconsin Healthcare Value Exchange, Madison, Wis.
  • Healthy Memphis Common Table, Germantown, Tenn.
  • Greater Detroit Area Health Council, Detroit, Mich.
  • Niagara Health Quality Coalition, Williamsville, N.Y.
  • Oregon Health Care Quality Corporation, Portland, Ore.
  • Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative, Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Puget Sound Health Alliance, Seattle, Wash.
  • Utah Partnership for Value-driven Health Care, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum, Baton Rouge, La.
  • Maine Chartered Value Exchange Alliance, Scarborough, Maine
  • Minnesota Healthcare Value Exchange, St. Paul, Minn.
  • Massachusetts Chartered Value Exchange, Watertown, Mass.
  • Alliance for Health, Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • New York Quality Alliance, Albany, N.Y.

Go to the Value-Driven Health Care Web site to read the HHS press release and for more information.

2. Outcomes Vary for Prostate Cancer Patients Choosing Surgery; Overall, No Treatment Proven Superior

Patients who undergo a complete prostate removal are less likely to experience urinary incontinence or other complications when an experienced surgeon performs the procedure in a hospital where it is done frequently, according to a new AHRQ-funded report, Comparative Effectiveness of Therapies for Clinically Localized Prostate Cancer. The report, compiled by AHRQ's Minnesota Evidence-based Practice Center, concluded that scientific evidence has not established surgery or any other single treatment as superior. The analysis compared the effectiveness and risks of eight prostate cancer treatments, including removing a patient's prostate treatment with radioactive implants, to no treatment at all. An article based on the report is posted online in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Select to read our press release and select to access the report.

3. New Study Finds Infectious Diseases Hospitalized More Than A Quarter Million Infants

Despite advances in public health, childhood infectious diseases continue to be a major health problem in the United States. One of every 14 American infants is hospitalized for a respiratory illness, kidney infection, septicemia, or other infectious disease before age one, according to a new study funded by AHRQ and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The researchers found that 4 of every 10 babies-287,000-that are hospitalized before reaching one year of age were treated for an infectious disease. The study, Infectious Disease Hospitalizations among Infants in the United States, is published in the February 2008 issue of Pediatrics. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

4. AHRQ Launches New Consumer-Oriented Video on Communicating with your Doctor

AHRQ has launched a new consumer-oriented video on communicating with your doctor. Communicating with your Doctor, features AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., N. Lee Rucker, M.S.P.H., Strategic Policy Advisor, American Association of Retired Persons, and Rick Kellerman, M.D., President, American Academy of Family Physicians. Experts discuss what the barriers are to good communication between patient and doctor; what steps can be taken to make sure patients understand everything their doctor is saying; what questions patients should ask their doctor about medical tests, diagnosis, and medicines; and how patients can become more comfortable discussing sensitive topics with their doctor. Healthology will distribute the videos to their network of 4,500+ Web sites. These include media sites, such as CNN and ABC News, as well as disease specific sites, professional organization sites, hospital sites, patient advocacy sites, internet service providers, non-profits, government and educational sites, and others.The video is based on Quick Tips—When Talking with Your Doctor.

5. Latest Issue of AHRQ's WebM&M is Available online

The January issue of AHRQ WebM&M is now available online. The Perspectives on Safety section features Jennifer Daley, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Partners Community Healthcare, Boston about improving safety in complex systems. The accompanying perspective piece features Loran Hauck, M.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer and Jan Jacob, M.B.A., R.N., Corporate Patient Safety Officer, both of Adventist Health System in Winter Park, Florida, discussing the implementation of a patient safety program in Adventist Health System.

Commentaries discuss how providers react to significant medical errors that cause harm, errors in the interpretation of blood culture results, and leakages related to chemotherapy. Spotlight cases this month include: "How do Providers Recover from Errors" and an accompanying commentary by Colin West, M.D., of Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, MN; "Contaminated or Not? Guidelines for Interpretation of Positive Blood Cultures" with an accompanying commentary by Melvin Weinstein, M.D. of Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey; and "Chemotherapy Extravasation" with accompanying commentary by Lisa Schulmeister R.N., an oncology nursing consultant in New Orleans. Physicians and nurses can receive free CME, CEU, or trainee certification by taking the Spotlight Quiz. You can easily share AHRQ WebM&M cases by using our "Email a colleague" feature.

6. Free Audio Conference on Consumer Financial Incentives Set for March 13

AHRQ is hosting a live audio conference on consumer financial incentives in health care, March 13 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. EST. This free audio conference will provide a thorough overview of findings from AHRQ's new publication, Consumer Financial Incentives: A Decision Guide for Purchasers. Author Adams Dudley, M.D., M.B.A., University of California, San Francisco, and Anne Robinow, an independent consultant and Vice President and General Manager of Patient Choice Healthcare Inc., will share a variety of applied examples from both the private sector and Medicaid and address questions from participants. Select to access the complete agenda and to register. Select to access the Guide.

7. IOM Meeting to Improve Patient Safety Set for March 4-5

The Institute of Medicine's Committee on Optimizing Graduate Medical Trainee (Resident) Hours and Work Schedules to Improve Patient Safety will meet March 4-5 at the Beckman Center at the University of California, Irvine. The first day of the meeting there will be a workshop in the afternoon which will be open to the public and will include several panels and speakers. The rest of the meeting will be closed. An agenda will be posted on the project's Web site along with sign-up information in late February.

8. Podcast on Preparing for Elective Surgery

This week's Healthcare 411 podcast features AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., offering consumers tips on questions to ask before undergoing elective surgery. Also featured is a comparative review of rheumatoid arthritis medications. This podcast was distributed to our 221 partnership organizations, including the American College of Surgeons and Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy. Shorter versions of these stories also aired on 125 radio stations nationwide. Select to listen to this podcast and select to read the transcript.

9. 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.

Russell RB, Green NS, Steiner CA, Meikle S, et al. Cost of hospitalization of preterm and low birth weight infants in the United States. Pediatrics 2007 Jul; 120(1):e1-39. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Feinglass J, Lin S, Thompson J, et al. Baseline health, socioeconomic status, and 10-year mortality among older middle-aged Americans: findings from the Health and Retirement Study, 1992-2002. J Gerontol B Psych Sci Soc Sci 2007 Jul; 62(4):S209-S217. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Katz DA, Dawson J, Beshansky JR, et al. Does concordance with guideline triage recommendations affect clinical care of patients with possible acute coronary syndrome? Med Decis Making 2007 Jul-Aug; 27(4):323-437. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Lin KW, Duane Mr. Are some screening tests doing more harm than good? Am Fam Physician 2007 Aug 1; 76(3):351-2.

Smith SR, Wahed AS, Kelley SS, et al. Assessing the validity of self-reported medication adherence in hepatitis C treatment. Ann Pharmacother 2007 Jul-Aug; 41(7):1116-23. Select to access the abstract in in PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of February 2008


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