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August 28, 2008, Issue No. 263

AHRQ News and Numbers

Among workers at small, private sector-companies, only about half who had individual health insurance in 2005 were required to contribute to monthly premiums. By comparison, 86 percent of workers at companies with 50 or more employees were required to pay for individual coverage. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Statistical Brief #213: State Differences in Offer Rates and Enrollment in Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Plans That Required No Employee Contribution to the Premium Cost, 2005.]

Today's Headlines

  1. New AHRQ tool helps hospitals evaluate disaster drills
  2. Elderly at increased risk of cardiovascular, respiratory disease deaths from conventional antipsychotics
  3. New study reports coronary stenting outcomes in a community practice setting
  4. AHRQ Annual Highlights 2007 now available
  5. Request for planning ideas for AHRQ's new innovations portfolio
  6. Save the Date: Meeting for Users of AHRQ CAHPS® and Patient Safety Culture Surveys on December 3-5
  7. AHRQ director helps consumers navigate the health care system in Web advice column
  8. 2007 HCUP Statewide data now available
  9. AHRQ HCUP facts and figures available
  10. Highlights from our most recent monthly newsletter
  11. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  New AHRQ Tool Helps Hospitals Evaluate Disaster Drills

AHRQ's new tool, Tool for Evaluating Core Elements of Hospital Disaster Drills, helps hospitals identify the most important strengths and weaknesses in their disaster response plans. Ensuring that hospitals are prepared to respond appropriately during any type of disaster situation—manmade or natural—is a priority for HHS. Beginning in September, hospitals participating in the HHS Hospital Preparedness Program will be required to provide executive summaries of the results of disaster drills they conduct. Select to read our press release and select to access the tool.

2.  Elderly at Increased Risk of Cardiovascular, Respiratory Disease Deaths from Conventional Antipsychotics

Elderly patients who are prescribed a conventional, or first-generation, antipsychotic medication are at an increased risk of death from cardiovascular or respiratory diseases when compared to those who take an atypical, or second-generation, antipsychotic medication, according to an AHRQ-funded study. The study, "Potential Causes of Higher Mortality in Elderly Users of Conventional and Atypical Antipsychotic Medications," was conducted by AHRQ's DEcIDE (Developing Evidence to Inform Decisions about Effectiveness) Research Center at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and is posted online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. This adds to the evidence that conventional antipsychotics may not be safer than atypical anitpsychotics for the elderly. Researchers had previously identified that such second-generation medications may pose an increased risk of mortality; the new study compares specific causes of death among elderly patients newly started on conventional vs. atypical antipsychotics. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

3.  New Study Reports Coronary Stenting Outcomes in a Community Practice Setting

A new AHRQ-funded study conducted by AHRQ's DEcIDE (Developing Evidence to Inform Decisions about Effectiveness) Research Center at Duke University compared the long-term clinical outcomes of patients receiving drug-eluting stents or bare metal stents in a clinical practice setting. The study found that patients with multi-vessel coronary artery disease treated with drug-eluting stents experience a greater reduction in the need for repeat procedures to open coronary arteries compared with those with single-vessel disease. The study is posted online in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

4.  AHRQ Annual Highlights 2007 Now Available

This report presents key accomplishments, initiatives, and research findings from AHRQ's research portfolio during 2007. Select to access the report. A print copy of AHRQ Annual Highlights 2007 is available by sending an E-mail to

5.  Request for Planning Ideas for AHRQ's New Innovations Portfolio

AHRQ is establishing a new research portfolio to identify and support research that has the potential to accelerate improvements in the organization, delivery, and management of health care. AHRQ has issued a Federal Register notice, "Request for Planning Ideas for Development of an AHRQ Innovations Research Portfolio," to seek ideas on priority topics and activities that should be addressed as components of the Innovations Portfolio. Select to access the August 15 Federal Register notice.

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

AHRQ will hold a meeting December 3-5 in Scottsdale, AZ, for users of the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) family of surveys and the AHRQ patient safety culture surveys for hospitals, nursing homes, and medical offices. Registration is free. 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 hospital, nursing home, and medical office staffs can use to assess their patient safety culture, track changes in patient safety culture over time, and evaluate the impact of patient safety interventions. Select for more information about CAHPS® and the culture surveys. Select for meeting agenda highlights. Registration details will be posted online later this month and will be made available in the next issue of this newsletter.

7.  AHRQ Director Helps Consumers Navigate the Health Care System in a Web Advice Column

AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., offers advice to consumers in new, brief, easy-to-understand columns. The biweekly columns will help consumers better navigate the health care system. Select to read Dr. Clancy's advice columns.

8.  2007 HCUP Statewide Data Now Available

Release of the 2007 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Statewide Databases for selected States began in July and will continue throughout 2008. States that have been released are listed on the HCUP Online Product Release Calendar and in the application kits at HCUP Central Distributor page. The databases include the State Inpatient Databases (SID), State Ambulatory Surgery Databases (SASD) and State Emergency Department Databases (SEDD). The SID, SASD and SEDD contain uniformly formatted data built around a core set of more than 100 clinical and non-clinical variables for all patient encounters, regardless of payer (i.e., Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, self-pay). The core variables include all-listed diagnoses and procedures, patient demographics, expected payment source, and total hospital charges.

9.  AHRQ HCUP Facts and Figures Available

AHRQ released an updated HCUP Facts and Figures 2006 report on hospital-based care with statistics from the HCUP Nationwide Inpatient Sample. This year's facts and figures report contains national statistics on hospital stays in the United States for 2006 and trends since 1993. Special topic areas include complications for c-section versus vaginal deliveries, depression, cancer, asthma, arthritis, and changes in procedure use over time. Select to access the report.

10.  Highlights From Our Most Recent Monthly Newsletter

The August issue of Research Activities is available online. Key articles included are:

  • Physicians should empathize with patients who are worried that their symptoms may indicate something serious.

Patients who visit their doctor for common symptoms sometimes express worry that the symptoms could indicate something serious. Patients are more satisfied with their care when doctors empathize with their concerns. Although doctors commonly reassure these patients, they less often express empathy, acknowledge uncertainty about a diagnosis, and explore emotions.

Other articles include:

  • Kegel exercises, bladder training, and some medications can resolve women's urinary incontinence.
  • Encouraging nursing home residents to participate in their care helps them maintain function and physical performance.
  • Low-income adults with physical disabilities face transportation, accessibility, and privacy barriers.
  • An antimicrobial stewardship program improves appropriate antimicrobial use among hospitalized children.

Select to read these articles and others.

11.  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.

Rhodes KV, Kushner HM, Bisgaler J, et al. Characterizing emergency department discussions about depression. Acad Emerg Med 2007 Oct; 14(10)908-11. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Grizzle AJ, Mahmood MH, Murphy JE, et al. Reasons provided by prescribers when overriding drug-drug interaction alerts. Am J Manag Care 2007 Oc; 13(10):573-80. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Colon-Emeric CS, Lyles KW, House P, et al. Randomized trial to improve fracture prevention in nursing home residents. Am J Med 2007 Oct; 120(10):886-92. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Arozullah AM, Yarnold PR, Bennett CL, et al. Development and validation of a short-form, rapid estimate of adult literacy in medicine. Med Care 2007 Nov; 45(11):1026-33. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of August 2008


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