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July 25, 2002, Issue No. 66

AHRQ News and Numbers

The average total charge for treating patients hospitalized with septicemia (except in childbirth) increased from $16,691 in 1993 to $24,365 in 2000. The total number of patients increased slightly, from 332,992 to 337,126, while the average length of stay decreased from 10.0 days to 8.2 days during that time period. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, HCUPnet, 2000].

Today's Headlines:

  1. Senate Appropriations Committee approves $308.6 million for AHRQ in FY 2003
  2. AHRQ inpatient quality indicators software released
  3. Data on uninsured from 2001 MEPS now available
  4. AHRQ puts HIV health care use statistics online
  5. JAMA article on AHRQ-funded study on health literacy and diabetes outcomes
  6. Archived video of child health Web conference on pediatric patient safety now available
  7. Guidelines added to the National Guideline Clearinghouse™
  8. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  Senate Appropriations Committee Approves $308.6 Million for AHRQ in FY 2003

On July 18, the full Senate Appropriations Committee approved $308 million for AHRQ in FY 2003. This is the same amount as approved by the Senate Appropriations Health Subcommittee a week earlier. The House Appropriations Committee will mark up the bill this fall. Meanwhile, an editorial in the July 24 USA Today laments the fact that "practice guidelines research is proceeding on such a limited scale that it risks becoming an endangered field." The solution, according to USA Today: "Washington could start revitalizing the effort by giving full support to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which collects data for doctors, policymakers and the public."

2.  AHRQ Inpatient Quality Indicators Software Released

AHRQ released the Inpatient Quality Indicators (IQIs), a free, downloadable tool designed to help hospitals, purchasers, and others flag potential quality-of-inpatient-care problems for followup investigation by evaluating their own readily available hospital administrative data. The IQI software uses hospital discharge data to flag potential quality problems, including overly high death rates for patients admitted for conditions such as acute myocardial infarction or hip fracture, or for surgical procedures that include abdominal aortic aneurysm repair and coronary artery bypass graft surgery. The IQIs also can spot questionable overuse, underuse, or even misuse of procedures such as Cesarean sections and percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty. Hospitals can use this data as a prompt to investigate quality problems and make improvements. Select to read our press release and to download AHRQ's Inpatient Quality Indicators software.

3.  Data on Uninsured from 2001 MEPS Now Available

In the first half of 2001, 16.7 percent of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population, or 45.9 million people, had no health insurance coverage, according to data from AHRQ's 2001 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Young adults, ages 19-24, were the age group at the greatest risk of being uninsured, with 33.9 percent of this group lacking health insurance. Hispanics accounted for 26.3 percent of the uninsured non-elderly population, even though they represented only 13.1 percent of the entire population under 65. Select for the full Statistical Brief (PDF File, 337 KB; PDF Help).

4.  AHRQ Puts HIV Health Care Use Statistics Online

Public health officials and others can now access HIV health care utilization data online through AHRQ's HIVnet. This interactive service provides statistical answers in real time to questions about HIV patients' use of outpatient and inpatient care by age, gender, race/ethnicity, HIV risk group, insurance status and type, protease inhibitors use, and other variables. Current data, drawn from the AHRQ-supported HIV Research Network, are for 1999, but 2000 data will be added later this year. Select to access HIVnet.

5.  JAMA Article on AHRQ-Funded Study on Health Literacy and Diabetes Outcomes

An AHRQ-funded study found that diabetes patients with low literacy are almost twice as likely to have poorly controlled blood sugar and serious long-term diabetes complications than patients with higher literacy levels. The study appears in the July 24 issue of JAMA. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, led by Dr. Dean Schillinger, said this is the first study to find that lower literacy is associated with worse health outcomes for patients with chronic medical conditions, even after accounting for patients' education, age, race, insurance, and diabetes drug regimen. Select to read the abstract.

6.  Archived Video of Child Health Web Conference on Pediatric Patient Safety Now Available

Video and materials from the interactive AHRQ-sponsored Child Health Speaker Series Web conference on July 17 on methods for reducing errors in pediatric medicine are now available on the Web. This archived version includes full audio and video with captioning, slides, and related material as presented in the live event. The presenters, Dr. Rainu Kaushal from Harvard Medical School and Dr. Marlene Miller from AHRQ, discussed targeted strategies to prevent medical errors and related injuries and lessons from AHRQ's pediatric patient safety research. If you were one of the 916 people who registered for the live event, you can view the Webcast by entering your registered E-mail address. If you have not yet registered, please complete the registration before viewing the Webcast.

7.  Guidelines Added to the National Guideline Clearinghouse™

Select to see what's new at the National Guideline Clearinghouse™ (NGC), a public resource for evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Select to subscribe to the NGC Weekly Update Service, which notifies you via E-mail when new features and guidelines become available at the NGC Web site. AHRQ also has available a supply of NGC tutorials on CD-ROM. The tutorial walks you through a series of informative demonstrations and scenarios on using the NGC. The CD-ROM is available free of charge by calling the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at 1-800-358-9295 or by sending an E-mail to

8.  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.

Glauber JH, Fuhlbrigge AL. Stratifying asthma populations by medication use: how your count counts. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2002 May; 88(5):451-6. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Newgard CD, Lewis RJ, Jolly BT. Use of out-of-hospital variables to predict severity of injury in pediatric patients involved in motor vehicle crashes. Ann Emerg Med 2002 May; 39(5):481-91. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Balk EM, Bonis PA, Moskowitz H, et al. Correlation of quality measures with estimates of treatment effect in meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. JAMA 2002 Jun 12; 287(22):2973-82. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Dawson R, Spross JA, Jablonski ES, et al. Probing the paradox of patients' satisfaction with inadequate pain management. J Pain Symptom Manage 2002 Mar; 23(3):211-20. 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 July 2002


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


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