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October 11, 2001, Issue No. 35

AHRQ News and Numbers

The average employee contributions to health insurance premiums in 1999 were $420 for single coverage and $1,438 for family coverage. Employee contributions increased 9.6 percent and 4.0 percent, respectively, over 1998, continuing the trend from previous years. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey-Insurance Component (MEPS-IC), 1999.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. HHS Secretary Thompson announces $50 million patient safety research initiative
  2. See a video of AHRQ's Gregg Meyer discussing patient safety initiative
  3. Increase in outpatient mastectomies in the last decade
  4. MEPS-patterns of ambulatory care use: Changes from 1987 to 1996
  5. CAHPS® Web chat transcript available
  6. Articles in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement
  7. Medicaid managed care seminar
  8. Interested in using Federal and State databases?
  9. Highlights from the most recent edition of our monthly newsletter
  10. New AHRQ publications
  11. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  HHS Secretary Thompson announces $50 million patient safety research initiative

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today announced the release of $50 million to fund 94 new research grants, contracts, and other projects to reduce medical errors and improve patient safety. The initiative represents the federal government's largest single investment to address the estimated 44,000 to 98,000 patient deaths related to medical errors each year. Funded by AHRQ, these projects will address key unanswered questions about how errors occur and provide science-based information on what patients, clinicians, hospital leaders, policymakers, and others can do to make the health care system safer. The results of this research will identify improvement strategies that work in hospitals, doctors' offices, nursing homes, and other health care settings across the nation. Select for the press release.

2.  See a video of AHRQ's Gregg Meyer discussing patient safety initiative

In a new video, Gregg S. Meyer, M.D., Director of the AHRQ's Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety, discusses the significance of the $50 million in patient safety research announced today by HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. The patient safety grants and contracts, awarded at the end of Fiscal Year 2001, provide funding for research in six critical areas: Supporting Demonstration Projects to Report Medical Errors Data; Using Computers and Information Technology to Prevent Medical Errors; Understanding the Impact of Working Conditions on Patient Safety; Developing Innovative Approaches to Improving Patient Safety; Disseminating Research Results; and Additional Patient Safety Research Initiatives.

3.  Increase in Outpatient Mastectomies in the Last Decade

A new AHRQ-funded study by Claudia A. Steiner, M.D., M.P.H., showed dramatic increases in outpatient complete mastectomies in five states. Researchers reviewed hospital inpatient and outpatient discharge records for all women who were treated for cancer with a breast procedure: lumpectomy, partial mastectomy, or complete mastectomy. Inpatient and outpatient surgery data were available between 1990 and 1996 in Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York and between 1993 and 1996 in Connecticut.

4.  Medical Expediture Panel Survey-Patterns of Ambulatory Care Use: Changes from 1987 to 1996

AHRQ released a report examining trends in the use of ambulatory care services by the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population from 1987 to 1996, based on data from AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Overall, there was no substantial change from 1987 to 1996 in the percentage of people who had a least one ambulatory care visit. In both years, about three-quarters of the population had at least one visit. However, in that time the percentage of visits that took place in office-based settings increased as the percentage of visits in outpatient hospital and emergency room settings decreased. In addition, the percentage of visits for preventive care increased from 17 percent in 1987 to 23 percent in 1996. Select to access the report.

5.  CAHPS® Web Chat Transcript Available

AHRQ hosted a live, moderated Web chat on September 20 for health services researchers with Dr. Christine Crofton, Ph.D., co-director of AHRQ's Consumer Assessment of Health Plans (CAHPS®) program. The discussion focused on a new Request for Applications that seeks to enrich the evidence base concerning consumer assessment of health plans and providers. Select to access the transcript.

6.  Articles in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement

The September issue of the Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement features several articles, two by AHRQ employees, as a special theme issue on working conditions and quality of care. The first article is by John Eisenberg, M.D., Director of AHRQ, entitled, "Does a Healthy Healthcare Workplace Produce Higher-Quality Care?" and the second is by Gregg Meyer, M.D., Director of AHRQ's Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety, entitled, "The Forgotten Component of the Quality Triad: Can We Still Learn Something from Structure?" These articles were adapted from selected papers presented at two conferences on the influence of working conditions and health care quality. The conferences were led by AHRQ and its partners on the federal Quality Interagency Coordination (QuIC) Task Force. A limited number of copies of the journal are available from AHRQ's Publications Clearinghouse, 1-800-358-9295, or

7.  Medicaid Managed Care Seminar

Tufts Managed Care Institute, Partnerships for Quality Education, and AHRQ are cosponsoring a conference, "Meeting the Challenge of Medicaid Managed Care: Best Practices for Clinical Care and Teaching," November 1-3, at the Westfields Marriott in Chantilly, VA. The conference is designed to give practitioners and teachers access to best practices and innovations in managing the care of Medicaid and low-income populations, taking into account current trends, model programs, research results, and new approaches to teaching. Registration deadline: October 19.

8.  Interested in Using Federal and State Databases?

AHRQ is co-sponsoring a seminar November 5-7 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Rockville, MD, to help researchers understand and use federal and state databases. These include databases of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, National Health Interview Survey, and Medicare and Medicaid Databases. The seminar is being held by the Academy for Health Services Research and Health Policy.

9.  Highlights from the Most Recent Edition of our Monthly Newsletter

The new issue of Research Activities is in the mail. The key articles are:

  1. Men aged 50 to 75 should be advised about PSA testing so they can make an informed decision.
  2. Doctors should consider antibiotic treatment for women with tenderness suggesting pelvic inflammatory disease.
  3. Few children with persistent asthma use controller medications that can reduce ER visits and hospitalizations.

Select to access these articles and others.

10  New AHRQ Publications

2001/2002 Fall/Winter Publications Catalog. A print copy of the publication is available by sending an E-mail to

11.  AHRQ in the Professional Literature

Bing EG, Burnam MA, Longshore D, et al. Psychiatric disorders and drug use among human immunodeficiency virus-infected adults in the United States. Arch Gen Psychiatry 2001 Aug;58(8):721-28.

Zema CL, Rogers L. Evidence of innovative uses of performance measures among purchasers. Health Care Financ Rev 2001 Spring;22(3):35-47.

Halm EA, Switzer GE, Mittman BS, et al. What factors influence physicians' decisions to switch from intravenous to oral antibiotics for community-acquired pneumonia? J Gen Intern Med 2001 Sep;16(9):599-605.

Contact Information

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Current as of October 2001


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