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August 23, 2002, Issue No. 68

AHRQ News and Numbers

The average total charge for treating U.S. patients hospitalized for diabetes with complications increased from $10,271 in 1993 to $14,779 in 2000. The total number of patients increased from 373,666 to 455,027, while the average length of stay decreased from 7.4 days to 5.6 days during that time period. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, HCUPnet, 2000.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. AHRQ unveils hospital bioterrorism preparedness tool
  2. Two new hormone replacement therapy reviews support findings of recently halted clinical trial
  3. Solicitation of measures for AHRQ's New National Quality Measures Clearinghouse™
  4. National survey details Americans' experiences with health care for chronic conditions
  5. New evidence report summary on bioterrorism preparedness and response available
  6. New evidence report summary on cancer-related decision tools available
  7. Radio messages remind parents about proper immunizations
  8. Guidelines added to the National Guideline Clearinghouse™
  9. Highlights from the most recent edition of our monthly newsletter
  10. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  AHRQ Unveils Hospital Bioterrorism Preparedness Tool

AHRQ today announced a new needs survey that hospitals can download and use as a checklist for assessing their capacity to handle potential victims of bioterrorist attacks or for evaluating existing emergency plans. The 42 questions in AHRQ's Bioterrorism Emergency Planning and Preparedness Questionnaire for Healthcare Facilities cover subjects such as biological weapons training for their personnel, procedures to permit rapid recognition of credentialed staff from other facilities, on-call nursing policies, and designated areas of emergency overflow for patients. The survey also asks hospitals about matters such as their supply of selected antibiotics and the diagnostic capability of their in-hospital laboratory. Select to access the press release and to view the questionnaire (PDF File, 136 KB; PDF Help).

2.  Two New Hormone Replacement Therapy Reviews Support Findings of Recently Halted Clinical Trial

Two new systematic reviews of a broad spectrum of research on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to prevent cardiovascular disease and other long-term health problems support the findings of a recently halted clinical trial in the Women's Health Initiative (WHI). These reviews were developed for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force as background for new recommendations on HRT use that will be published in the fall for clinicians and patients. The reviews were conducted by research teams led by Heidi Nelson, M.D., M.P.H., and Linda Humphrey, M.D., M.P.H., at AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Center at Oregon Health & Science University. The two reviews, one in the August 20 Annals of Internal Medicine and the other in the August 21 Journal of the American Medical Association, found that for women taking HRT for 5 years or longer to prevent chronic conditions, harms could exceed benefits. The reviews were not able to determine whether the harms or benefits depended on type of hormones used. Although one study of estrogen and progestin in the WHI was stopped after 5 years because harms exceeded benefits, a second study of estrogen alone for women who have had a hysterectomy is continuing because the balance of benefits and harms is not yet clear. Select to access the press release and to see the reviews.

3.  Solicitation of Measures for AHRQ's New National Quality Measures Clearinghouse™

AHRQ issued a call for measures for inclusion in the new National Quality Measures Clearinghouse™ (NQMC), a Web-based repository of tools for measuring health care quality. Developed by AHRQ, the NQMC is a significant enhancement of the Agency's CONQUEST library of performance measures and is intended for use by health care providers, managers, policymakers, and others interested in health care quality measurement. Criteria for including measures in NQMC are detailed in the August 21 Federal Register and on AHRQ's Web site. Measures can be submitted by national, State, and local organizations involved in developing and/or using quality measurement tools. Nominations of measures should be submitted to Vivian H. Coates, NQMC Project Director, ECRI, 5200 Butler Pike, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462-1298. Questions should be forwarded to

4.  National Survey Details Americans' Experiences With Health Care for Chronic Conditions

New data from AHRQ indicate that 23 percent of Americans age 18 and older report that they have high blood pressure. The data also indicate that 10.3 percent report that they have heart disease; 9.1 percent, asthma; and 6.2 percent, diabetes. The self-reported data, which come from AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, are included in a statistical brief titled Medical Care and Treatment for Chronic Conditions, 2000. Select to access the press release and the statistical brief for more information (PDF File, 497 KB; PDF Help).

5.  New Evidence Report Summary on Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Available

We issued the summary of a new evidence report by AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Center at the University of California at San Francisco-Stanford University on the use of information technology/decision support systems in the event of a bioterrorist attack. This evidence report, Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response: Use of Information Technologies and Decision Support Systems (IT/DSS), finds that IT/DSS can help clinicians and public health officials make better decisions in responding to a bioterrorism event. It also identifies technologies and systems that could potentially aid in detection, diagnosis, management, prevention, surveillance and communication. Select to access the press release and the summary.

6.  New Evidence Report Summary on Cancer-Related Decision Tools Available

We issued the summary of a new evidence report by AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Center at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. The researchers looked at people with different types of cancer who used different types of decision aids, including interactive videos, to make treatment decisions. Select to access the summary. A print copy of the summary, Impact of Cancer-Related Decision Aids, is available by sending an E-mail to

7.  Radio Messages Remind Parents About Proper Immunizations

To coincide with beginning of the school year, we have produced two radio messages about the need for children to be immunized against common diseases. They promote the Child Health Guide from our Put Prevention Into Practice program, which includes charts and other information to help parents remember when their children should get shots. The guide also helps them track other aspects of their children's health.

8.  Guidelines Added to the National Guideline Clearinghouse™

Select to access 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. 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

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

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

  1. New computerized decision aids improve ED triage of chest pain patients.
  2. Medical schools and residency programs should provide more training on preventing adverse drug reactions.
  3. Researchers examine poor childrens' access to public insurance coverage and health care.
  4. HIV diagnosis may increase opportunities for medical interactions and interventions, including mammography.

Select to access these articles and others.

10.  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.

Dranove D, Simon CJ, White WD. Is managed care leading to consolidation in health-care markets? Health Serv Res 2002 Jun; 37(3):573-94. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Cohen-Mansfield J, Lipson S. Medical decisions for troubled breathing in nursing home residents. Int J Nurs Stud 2002 Jul; 39(5):557-61. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Mehta KM, Yaffe K, Covinsky KE. Cognitive impairment, depressive symptoms, and functional decline in older people. J Am Geriatr Soc June 2002; 50(6):1045-50. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of August 2002


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