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July 21, 2008, Issue No.261

AHRQ News and Numbers

About 6,200 Americans are hospitalized each summer due to excessive heat, and those at highest risk are the poor, uninsured and elderly. In 2005, about 180 people who were hospitalized for heat exposure died. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), HCUP Statistical Brief #55: Hospital Stays Resulting from Excessive Heat and Cold Exposure Due to Weather Conditions in U.S. Community Hospitals, 2005.]

Today's Headlines

  1. AHRQ and AARP team to help adults over 50 stay healthy
  2. Task Force recommends screening for hearing lost in all newborns
  3. Report offers resources for home health care response during a flu pandemic
  4. AHRQ study finds hospital patient reports helpful for identifying adverse events
  5. National Advisory Council meeting scheduled for July 25
  6. Updated annual conference agenda now available
  7. AHRQ podcast features emergency room use
  8. W.H.O. issues a checklist to make operations safer
  9. AHRQ seeks nominations for chair of CERTs Steering Committee
  10. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  AHRQ and AARP Team to Help Adults Over 50 Stay Healthy

AHRQ and AARP released two new checklists designed to help men and women over the age of 50 learn what they can do to stay healthy and prevent disease. AHRQ and AARP also released an accompanying wall chart, the Staying Healthy at 50+ timeline, that provides information about recommended preventive services and can be posted in both clinical and community settings. These three publications, Men: Stay Healthy at 50+, Checklists for Your Health; Women: Stay Healthy at 50+, Checklists for Your Health show at a glance the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force evidence-based recommendations regarding screening tests, preventive medicines, and healthy lifestyle behaviors for adults age 50 and older. Select to read our press release. Print copies are available by sending an E-mail to

2.  Task Force Recommends Screening For Hearing Loss in All Newborns

All newborn infants should be screened for congenital hearing loss, which means it may be present at birth, according to a new recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The recommendation and the accompanying summary of evidence appear in the July 7 issue of Pediatrics. Children whose hearing is impaired during infancy and early childhood can have problems with verbal and nonverbal communication skills, social skills, increased behavioral problems, and lower academic achievement compared with children with normal hearing. Infants at high risk for hearing loss include those who have spent more than two days in neonatal intensive care, those diagnosed with certain syndromes, and those with a family history of childhood hearing loss. Because half of infants with hearing loss have no identifiable risk factors, the Task Force proposes universal screening, rather than targeted screening, to detect newborns with congenital hearing loss. Detecting and treating infants for hearing loss, rather than detecting hearing loss at a later age, provides better chances for positive outcomes such as stronger language skills. Select to read our press release and select to access the recommendation.

3.  AHRQ Report Offers Resources for Home Health Care Response During a Flu Pandemic

A new AHRQ report, Home Health Care During an Influenza Pandemic: Issues and Resources, identifies home health care as a critical component in providing care during a pandemic influenza event. The report, released in collaboration with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, offers resources to home health care providers and community planners to prepare for a pandemic flu event. It emphasizes the home health care sector's potential to help handle a surge in patients during a biologic event and stresses the need for involvement of home health care agencies in advance planning and coordination at the local level. It offers resources and suggestions on addressing key elements of home health care preparedness and includes lists of existing tools and models. Select to read our press release and select to access the report. A print copy is available by sending an E-mail to

4.  AHRQ Study Finds Hospital Patient Reports Helpful for Identifying Adverse Events

A new AHRQ-funded study reported in the July 15 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine found that surveying patients after they were hospitalized can help identify adverse events that occurred during their care. The study, "Comparing Patient-Reported Hospital Adverse Events with Medical Record Review: Do Patients Know Something that Hospitals Do Not?" is the largest study to date to compare patient-reported adverse events with those gleaned from medical record reviews. The study was lead by Joel Weissman, Ph.D., of the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute for Health Policy in Boston. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

5.  National Advisory Council Meeting Scheduled for July 25

The AHRQ National Advisory Council is scheduled to meet on Friday, July 25, at AHRQ's Eisenberg Conference Center in Rockville, MD. The Council will discuss such topics as AHRQ's National Healthcare Quality Report and National Healthcare Disparities Report and employer engagement in health care.

6.  Updated Annual Conference Agenda Now Available

An updated version of the agenda for AHRQ's 2008 annual conference, September 7-10, at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, is now available under the "Agenda" tab on the conference Web site. The updated agenda includes speaker names and revised session descriptions, along with other important details. In addition, all hotel room blocks are now available for participants who need to make travel arrangements. However, room availability and the Federal per diem rate are only guaranteed through August 8. For more information, select the "Lodging" tab on the conference Web site.

7.  AHRQ Podcast Features Emergency Room Use

AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., is featured in a recent Healthcare 411 podcast advising consumers on how to choose a doctor who is right for them. Also featured is an AHRQ report that reveals children from poor families are almost twice as likely as higher-income kids to use hospital emergency rooms as well as AHRQ's new Spanish-language type 2 diabetes guide. More than 335 professional organizations, such as the National Association for Rural Health Clinics and the Ambulatory Pediatric Association, shared this podcast with their members. Select to listen to this Healthcare 411 podcast.

8.  W.H.O. Issues a Checklist to Make Operations Safer

The World Health Organization issued its first guidelines Exit disclaimer icon aimed at reducing deaths and complications in surgery. The list is intended to improve anesthetic safety practices, avoid infections and improve communication among members of surgical teams. Other recommendations call for marking the correct site for surgery to avoid operating on the wrong patient or performing the wrong procedure; giving an antibiotic within 60 minutes of making an incision to reduce infections, checking for allergies to drugs; inserting two intravenous lines for operations that have involved substantial blood loss; and counting sponges and needles to ensure that none are left in a patient. AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy gave remarks at the June 12 World Health Alliance in Washington, DC, commending WHO for the Safe Surgery Saves Lives initiative.

9.  Nominations Sought for Chair of CERTs National Steering Committee

The Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics (CERTs) Program is seeking highly qualified individuals for consideration to take on the role of chair and chair-elect of the CERTs National Steering Committee. The deadline for receipt of nominations is August 31. AHRQ is asking for help in finding and recruiting qualified candidates for this high-visibility position. The CERTs Program has expanded in size, scope, and visibility in the past few years. It is poised to assume increasing roles in therapeutics safety surveillance and assessment, comparative effectiveness, and the use and development of Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage data.

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.

Mack JW, Co JP, Goldmann DA, et al. Quality of health care for children: role of health and chronic illness in inpatient care experiences. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2007 Sep; 161(9):828-34. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Liang H, Chen D, Wang Y, et al. Different risk factor patterns for metabolic syndrome in men with spinal cord injury compared with able-bodied men despite similar prevalence rates. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2007 Sep; 88(9):1198-204. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Col NF, Ngo L, Fortin JM, et al. Can computerized decision support help patients make complex treatment decisions? Med Decis Making 2007 Sep-Oct; 27(5):585-98. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Haas JS, Fitamaurice G, Brawarsky P, et al. Association of regional variation in primary care physicians' colorectal cancer screening recommendations with individual use of colorectal cancer screening. Prev Chonic Dis 2007 Oct; 4(4):A90. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Winter L, Parker B. Current health preferences for life-prolonging treatments: an application of prospect theory to end-of-life decision making. Soc Sci Med 2007 Oct; 65(8):1695-707. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of July 2008


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