Skip Navigation Archive: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Archive: Agency for Healthcare Research Quality
Archive print banner

Electronic Newsletter

This information is for reference purposes only. It was current when produced and may now be outdated. Archive material is no longer maintained, and some links may not work. Persons with disabilities having difficulty accessing this information should contact us at: Let us know the nature of the problem, the Web address of what you want, and your contact information.

Please go to for current information.

August 8, 2008, Issue No.262

AHRQ News and Numbers

Prescriptions filled for antidepressant drugs increased from 154 million in 2002 to 170 million in 2005. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Statistical Brief #206: Antidepressants Prescribed by Medical Doctors in Office-Based and Outpatient Settings for the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population, 2002 and 2005.]

Today's Headlines

  1. Task Force says men age 75 and older should not be screened for prostate cancer
  2. New AHRQ study finds surgical errors cost nearly $1.5 billion annually
  3. Plain-language comparisons of prostate cancer treatments
  4. Health Affairs study analyzes health care spending and tax subsidies
  5. Register for AHRQ's September 25 CAHPS® Consortium Update Webcast
  6. Register now for AHRQ's September 24-25 joint MEPS-HCUP training workshop
  7. Save the date: Meeting for users of AHRQ CAHPS® and Patient Safety Culture Surveys on December 3-5
  8. AHRQ podcast features emergency preparedness tools
  9. New CHIRI™ Issue Brief examines insurance outcomes of SCHIP enrollees
  10. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  Task Force Says Men over the Age of 75 and Older Should Not Be Screened for Prostate Cancer

Men age 75 and older should not be screened for prostate cancer, and younger men should discuss the benefits and harms of the prostate-specific antigen test with their clinicians before being tested, according to a new recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The recommendation and accompanying evidence summary appear in the August 5 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. Select to read our press release and select to access the recommendation statement and supporting documents.

2.  New AHRQ Study Finds Surgical Errors Cost Nearly $1.5 Billion Annually

Potentially preventable medical errors that occur during or after surgery may cost employers nearly $1.5 billion a year, according to a new AHRQ-funded study published in the July 28 issue Health Services Research. The study also found that 1 of every 10 patients who died within 90 days of surgery did so because of a preventable error and that one-third of the deaths occurred after the initial hospital discharge. Select to read our press release and select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

3.  Plain-Language Comparisons of Prostate Cancer Treatments

AHRQ released plain-language guides for consumers and clinicians that outline the latest scientific evidence on the effectiveness and risks of eight prostate cancer treatments, including surgery to remove a patient's prostate, treatment with radioactive implants, or no treatment at all. In 2007, about 218,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and about 27,000 died from the disease. The annual cost of treatment is more than $2 billion. The consumer-targeted guide, called Treating Prostate Cancer: a Guide for Men with Localized Cancer and Treatments for Clinically Localized Prostate Cancer, is the newest in a series of comparative effectiveness guides from AHRQ's Effective Health Care program. The clinician's guide called, Treatments for Clinically Localized Prostate Cancer, includes additional information, including a confidence scale that rates available evidence.

4.  Health Affairs Study Analyzes Health Care Spending and Tax Subsidies

In the July/August online version of Health Affairs, AHRQ analysts provide the first study since the 1970s that comprehensively analyzes the distribution of health care outlays and health care tax subsidies provided by federal, state, and local governments. The study, which uses the most recent data available, breaks down public health spending by age, race, sex, health status, coverage status, and income. AHRQ's Thomas Selden and Merrile Sing found that public outlays and tax expenditures constituted 56 percent of all health care spending in 2002. Overall, public spending on the civilian noninstitutionalized population averaged $2,612 per person; of that amount, $1,867 per person came from outlays through Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs, while $745 per person came from health-related tax subsidies, predominantly the exclusion of the value of employer-sponsored health insurance from federal and state taxes. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

5.  Register for AHRQ's September 25 CAHPS® Consortium Update Webcast

On September 25, from 1:00-2:30 p.m. EDT, the CAHPS® User Network is presenting a free Webcast, "The Evolution of the CAHPS® Clinician & Group Survey: An Update from AHRQ's CAHPS® Consortium," to discuss several recent developments in the survey. Select for more information and to register.

6.  Register Now for AHRQ's September 24-25 Joint MEPS-HCUP Training Workshop

Register now for AHRQ's joint Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Data Users Workshop to be held on September 24-25 in Rockville, MD. The training is designed to familiarize the health services research community with these AHRQ data resources. Researchers will receive an overview of the data resources on the first day, and hands-on training on one of the data resources on the second day. Select to register and for more information.

7.  Save the Date: Meeting for Users of AHRQ CAHPS® and Patient Safety Culture Surveys on December 3-5

AHRQ will hold a joint meeting for users of the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) family of surveys and of the AHRQ patient safety culture surveys for hospitals, nursing homes, and medical offices on December 3-5. Registration is free, and the meeting will be held at the Doubletree Paradise Valley Resort in Scottsdale, AZ. The main meeting will be December 4-5 and the CAHPS® College will be on December 3. The CAHPS® program is a public/private initiative to develop standardized surveys of patients' experiences with ambulatory and facility-level care. The patient safety culture surveys are tools that staff in hospitals, nursing homes, and medical offices can use to assess their patient safety culture, track changes in patient safety culture over time, and evaluate the impact of patient safety interventions. AHRQ released the hospital patient safety culture survey in 2004 and plans to issue the surveys for nursing homes and medical offices this fall. Select for more information about CAHPS®.

For more information about the culture surveys. Online registration will open in mid-August, and more information will be available in the next issue of this electronic newsletter.

8.  AHRQ Podcast Features Emergency Preparedness Tools

AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., is featured in a recent Healthcare 411 podcast advising consumers about the value of having a family health advocate. Also featured is AHRQ's new guide for Emergency Preparedness in Home Health Care. More than 350 professional organizations, including the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging and National Association of Rural Health Clinics, shared this podcast with their members. Select to listen to this Healthcare 411 podcast.

9.  New CHIRI™ Issue Brief Examines Insurance Outcomes of SCHIP Enrollees

A new issue brief from the Child Health Insurance Research Initiative (CHIRI™), Do SCHIP Enrollees Stay Insured?, finds that over three-quarters of State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) enrollees were publicly insured through Medicaid or SCHIP at least one year after enrollment, while 4 percent to 15 percent of SCHIP enrollees obtained private insurance coverage after leaving SCHIP. SCHIP retention was increased by a simplified renewal policy that automatically reenrolled children in SCHIP unless their families submitted reenrollment forms indicating a change affecting their eligibility. Children who disenrolled from SCHIP when their eligibility was renewed at one year were more likely to become uninsured than children who left during their first year of enrollment. Select to review the issue brief.

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..

Osborn CY, Paasche-Orlow MK, Davis TC, et al. Health literacy: an overlooked factor in understanding HIV health disparities. Am J Prev Med 2007 Nov; 33(5):374-8. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Chu M, Sweis LE, Guay AH, Manski RJ. The dental care of U.S. children: access, use and referrals by nondentist providers, 2003. J Am Dent Assoc 2007 Oct; 138(10):1324-31. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Suba EJ, Pfeifer JD, Raab SS. Patient identification error among prostate needle core biopsy specimens-are we ready for a DNA time-out? J Urol 2007 Oct; 178(4 Pt 1):1245-8. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Minkovitz CS, Strobino D, Mistry KB, et al. Healthy Steps for young children: sustained results at 5.5 years. Pediatrics 2007 Sept; 120(3):e658-68. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Contact Information

Please address comments and questions regarding the AHRQ Electronic Newsletter to Nancy Comfort at or (301) 427-1866.

Update your subscriptions, modify your password or E-mail address, or stop subscriptions at any time on your Subscriber Preferences Page. You will need to use your E-mail address to log in.

If you have any questions or problems with the subscription service, E-mail: For other inquiries, Contact Us.

This service is provided to you at no charge by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality AHRQ).

Current as of August 2008


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


AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care