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June 14, 2002, Issue No. 61

AHRQ News and Numbers

In 1999, U.S. community hospitals billed more for coronary atherosclerosis, a total of $26.2 billion, than for any other condition. Over 1.2 million hospital stays were for coronary atherosclerosis, a total of 3.5% of all U.S. community hospitalizations. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, Nationwide Inpatient Sample, 2000].

Today's Headlines:

  1. New measure may help prevent pneumonia patients from being sent home from the hospital too soon
  2. AHRQ's Arizona/CERTs adverse drug reaction educational module released
  3. Evidence report available on management of chronic hepatitis C
  4. Transcript available from Web chat about pregnancy and quitting smoking
  5. Special edition of Health Affairs—a tribute to former AHRQ Director John Eisenberg
  6. Journal article details development of HCUP databases
  7. Informational meeting on July 1 on AHRQ NRSA Institutional Research Training Grants
  8. MEPS data users' workshops
  9. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  New Measure May Help Prevent Pneumonia Patients from Being Sent Home from the Hospital too Soon

AHRQ announced a new study that found that hospitalized pneumonia patients who have abnormal vital signs, mental confusion, or problems with eating or drinking in the 24 hours prior to discharge are more likely not to be able to resume normal activities and face a greater chance of hospital readmission or death. The research team, led by Ethan A. Halm, M.D., M.P.H., of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, focused on the potential danger of releasing pneumonia patients from the hospital "quicker and sicker." They developed a simple measure of how sick patients with pneumonia are that can be used to judge whether it is safe for them to be discharged from the hospital. The measure uses vital signs and an assessment of the patient's mental status and ability to eat and drink. The article, "Instability on Hospital Discharge and the Risk of Adverse Outcomes in Patients with Pneumonia," was published in the June 10 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. Select to access the press release.

2.  AHRQ's Arizona/CERTs Adverse Drug Reaction Educational Module Released

The AHRQ-funded Arizona/Center for Education & Research on Therapeutics, in collaboration with FDA, released its clinical pharmacology educational module "Preventable Adverse Drug Reactions: A Focus on Drug Interactions." The module was based on a needs survey sent to all third-year medicine clerkship directors and all medicine residency program directors in the United States. To read the learning module, go to FDA Web site at

3.  Evidence Report Available on Management of Chronic Hepatitis C

We issued the summary of a new evidence report on the Management of Chronic Hepatitis C by AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Center at Johns Hopkins University. This evidence report, which was used as the basis of the NIH Consensus Development Conference on June 10-11, 2002, indicates that medical research has made significant progress in the past 5 years regarding treatment for chronic hepatitis C with interferon and ribavirin. The report reviews and synthesizes the available evidence literature on several key questions on the management of chronic hepatitis C. Select to read the summary.

4.  Transcript Available from Web Chat About Pregnancy and Quitting Smoking

AHRQ arranged a Web chat on Pregnancy.Org on May 13 about advice for quitting smoking during pregnancy. The chat featured Sally Faith Dorfman, M.D., medical director of a New York-based HMO, who is a member of the panel that developed the Public Health Service's clinical practice guideline, Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence. Dr. Dorfman discussed tips from the guide "You Can Quit Smoking: Support and Advice from Your Prenatal Care Provider," which contains step-by-step guidance for quitting smoking and lists the many benefits of a tobacco-free life for both mother and child. Select to view the transcript for the Web chat.

5.  Special Edition of Health Affairs—A Tribute to Former AHRQ Director John Eisenberg

The May/June 2002 issue of Health Affairs features a tribute to former AHRQ Director John Eisenberg, who died in March. It also includes an article, "Globalize the Evidence—Localize the Decision: Balancing Evidence-Based Medicine and International Diversity in Health Care," that was co-authored by Dr. Eisenberg and Gregg Meyer, M.D., Director of AHRQ's Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety. The article focuses on making evidence-based medicine more widely available while allowing for the need of professionals in other countries to implement it as they deem appropriate.

6.  Journal Article Details Development of HCUP Databases

An article in the May/June 2002 issue of Journal of Effective Clinical Practice, "The Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project: A Family of Databases," details the development, content, and uses of HCUP databases and tells readers how to obtain the data resources made available through this Federal-State-private industry project. The authors are AHRQ's Claudia Steiner, M.D., Anne Elixhauser, Ph.D., and Jenny Schnaier, M.A. A print copy is available by sending an E-mail to

7.  Informational Meeting on July 1 on AHRQ NRSA Institutional Research Training Grants

AHRQ will hold a preapplication informational meeting on July 1 for investigators planning to submit applications in response to the Request for Applications (RFA) on AHRQ National Research Service Award Institutional Research Training Grants. During the meeting, AHRQ program, peer review, and grants management staff will be available to discuss the intent and requirements of the RFA. Also, prospective applicants and others in the audience will have an opportunity to receive answers to their questions about the RFA. The preapplication meeting will be held on July 1 from 12:30-3:30 p.m. at 6010 Executive Boulevard, 4th Floor, Conference Room C, in Rockville, MD, and is open to the public. Select to access the Notice of the Meeting and the RFA.

8.  MEPS Data Users' Workshops

AHRQ is conducting two workshops to facilitate the use of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component (MEPS-HC) by the health services research community. The workshops, designed for those with an interest in using national health surveys, will be held at the AHRQ Conference Center, Rockville, MD, August 19 and August 20-21, 2002. At both workshops, participants will have the opportunity to bring up specific research and policy questions of interest to themselves. Select for program descriptions, registration forms, and logistical information.

9.  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.

Keruly JC, Conviser R, Moore RD. Association of medical insurance and other factors with receipt of antiretroviral therapy. Am J Public Health 2002 May; 92(5):811-7. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Grembowski DE, Martin D, Patrick DL, et al. Managed care, access to mental health specialists and outcomes among primary care patients with depressive symptoms. J Gen Intern Med 2002 Apr; 17(4):258-69. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Stryer DB, Clancy C. Disparities in hospital transfer: inequities, patient-centered care, or both. Am J Med 2002 May; 112(7):580-1. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Ayanian JZ, Landrum MB, McNeil BJ. Use of cholesterol-lowering therapy by elderly adults after myocardial infarction. Arch Intern Med 2002 May; 162(9):1013-9. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

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

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Current as of June 2002


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