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November 21, 2001, Issue No. 38

AHRQ News and Numbers

Approximately 68 percent of establishments in the Nation offered workers only one health insurance plan in 1998. Establishments in California and Hawaii were the most likely to offer a choice of health insurance plans to their employees. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2001. MEPS Chartbook No. 7: State Differences in Job-related Health Insurance, 1998.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. Dr. Eisenberg on Fox News Channel cable TV special on medical errors
  2. HHS/ABC Radio partnership aims to eliminate racial health disparities
  3. Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Prevention Indicators
  4. New nursing home predictive tool
  5. Impact of studies funded under outcomes of pharmaceutical outcomes research
  6. Using computers and information technology to prevent medical errors
  7. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  Dr. Eisenberg on Fox News Channel cable TV special on medical errors

AHRQ Director Dr. John Eisenberg is featured in "Critical Care: A Report on America's Health Care," with Newt Gingrich which airs on the Fox News Channel on cable on Thursday, November 22—Thanksgiving Day—from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. (ET) and again on Sunday, November 25 from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. (ET). The television special was filmed in five hospitals across the country: Ohio State University Medical Center in Cleveland; Sentara Health System in Norfolk, Va.; Palo Alto (CA) Veterans Hospital; Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston; and Washington (DC) Hospital Center. It explores examples of leading technologies being used to combat errors in hospitals and investigates why many hospitals have generally been slow to adopt or test these technologies.

2.  HHS/ABC Radio partnership aims to eliminate racial health disparities

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced a new partnership with the ABC Radio Networks to inform the African-American community about ways of achieving better health through a new radio campaign called "Closing the Health Gap." The campaign is designed to inform, educate, challenge, and empower African-Americans to change behaviors through providing lifestyle tips and information on local sources of health care and public health programs. As part of the campaign, all 240 of ABC Radio's Urban Advantage Network affiliates will air detailed messages about the severity of the health crisis facing African-Americans, emphasizing specific steps listeners can take to adopt healthier lifestyles.

3.  Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Prevention Indicators

AHRQ today announced the availability of new Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) prevention indicators. These indicators measure inpatient admissions for ambulatory care-sensitive conditions—illnesses that if adequately managed at the primary care level should not have required inpatient care. These indicators can help State and local health departments and others determine if there are access or quality-of-care problems by providing users with benchmarks at the State, regional, and national levels. In addition, the indicators will flag potential problems of access to primary care and disease prevention services. Select to access the AHRQ press release and to see the indicators.

4.  New nursing home predictive tool

AHRQ announced an article appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that discusses the design of a new tool that helps identify nursing home residents at relatively low risk for death from lower respiratory infection (LRI). Use of the tool could result in treatment in the nursing home rather than a hospital. LRI, predominantly pneumonia, is the leading cause of mortality and hospitalization of nursing home residents. The new tool, designed specifically for residents of nursing facilities, helps physicians determine the severity of the illness, which can help them choose the location for treatment more quickly. The article, "Predicting Mortality from Lower Respiratory Infection (LRI) in Nursing Home Residents: The Missouri LRI Study," by David R. Mehr, M.D., M.S., from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine, was published in the November 21 issue of JAMA. Select to access the AHRQ press release.

5.  Impact of studies funded under outcomes of pharmaceutical outcomes research

AHRQ issued a new report "The Impact of Studies Funded Under Outcomes of Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research."The report is part of a project to assess the impact of 18 pharmaceutical research studies funded by AHRQ during the 1990s. These research studies varied in scope but addressed the following key areas of interest:

  1. Data and analytic methods involved in the study of drug therapy effectiveness.
  2. Economic analysis and the effects of changes in the health care environment.

A print copy is available by sending an E-mail to

6.  Using computers and information technology to prevent medical errors

As part of the $50 million patient safety research initiative announced by HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson on October 11, AHRQ is funding 22 projects that will develop and test the use of information and communication technology to reduce medical errors, improve patient safety, and improve quality of care. For example, a $255,289 project at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and another $345,286 project at Creighton University in Omaha will test whether the use of hand-held computers with decision support systems can reduce medical errors in primary care clinics. A $486,805 project at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City will use state-of-the-art computer simulation tools to train surgery residents and to identify, quantify, and analyze errors as well as "near misses." A $275,179 project at the University of Chicago will identify factors that lead to errors in the use of infusion pumps that are used to give patient intravenous fluids and medicine.

7.  AHRQ in the Professional Literature

Patrick DL, Engelberg RA, Curtis JR. Evaluating the quality of dying and death. J Pain Symptom Manage 2001 Sep;22(3):717-26.

Mehta RL, McDonald B, Gabbai FB, et al. A randomized clinical trial of continuous versus intermittent dialysis for acute renal failure. Kidney Int 2001 Sep;60(3):1154-63.

Meredith LS, Sturm R, Camp P, et al. Effects of cost-containment strategies within managed care on continuity of the relationship between patients with depression and their primary care providers. Med Care 2001 Oct;39(10):1075-85.

Baker DW, Sudano JJ, Albert JM, et al. Lack of health insurance and decline in overall health in late middle age. N Engl J Med 2001 Oct 11;345(15):1106-12.

Katz J, Feldman MA, Bass EB, et al. Adverse intraoperative medical events and their association with anesthesia management strategies in cataract surgery. Ophthalmology 2001 Oct;108(10):1721-6.

Bauchner H, Osganian S, Smith K, et al. Improving parent knowledge about antibiotics: a video intervention. Pediatrics 2001 Oct;108(4): 845-50.

Gergen PJ. Environmental tobacco smoke as a risk factor for respiratory disease in children. Respir Physiol 2001 Oct;128(1):39-46.

Chen FM, Feudtner C, Rhodes LA, et al. Role conflicts of physicians and their family members: rules but no rulebook. West J Med 2001 Oct;175(4):236-9.

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Current as of November 2001


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