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November 22, 2002, Issue No. 79

AHRQ News and Numbers

The average total charge for treating U.S. patients hospitalized for acute cerebrovascular disease increased from $15,374 in 1993 to $19,956 in 2000. The total number of hospital discharges increased from 554,896 to 580,054, while the average length of stay decreased from 9.5 days to 6.7 days during that time period. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, HCUPnet, 2000.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. AHRQ Deputy Director leaving to focus on child health policy at University of South Florida
  2. AHRQ to launch online patient safety journal
  3. Article in NEJM on heart attack survivors and followup care
  4. New easy-to-read smoking cessation publications available
  5. Call for abstracts for Child Health Services Research meeting in June
  6. Job openings at AHRQ
  7. Guidelines added to the National Guideline Clearinghouse™
  8. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  AHRQ Deputy Director Leaving to Focus on Child Health Policy at University of South Florida

After 6 years as AHRQ's Deputy Director, Dr. Lisa Simpson will be leaving at the end of 2002. Starting in February 2003, she will be the All Children's Hospital Guild Endowed Chair for Child Health Policy at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg. "This is a very exciting opportunity for my family and me.  I will be able to dedicate myself full time to improving the quality of children's health care through research and action," said Dr. Simpson. AHRQ Acting Director Carolyn Clancy noted that Dr. Simpson's contributions at AHRQ have shaped many highly successful initiatives, including quality assessment and improvement programs, evidence-based practice programs, priority populations research, and child health services research. "Her continuous generosity and wisdom have been invaluable to AHRQ and the senior leadership and have helped AHRQ become the Agency it is today. That we will miss her is a profound understatement, but she will leave an important legacy of successful initiatives and exciting work in progress. We all wish her the best!" said Dr. Clancy. Dr. Robert Graham, who currently directs AHRQ's Center for Practice and Technology Assessment, will serve as Acting Deputy Director upon Dr. Simpson's departure.

2.  AHRQ to Launch Online Patient Safety Journal

AHRQ and an editorial team at the University of California, San Francisco, are creating the nation's first peer-reviewed, Web-based medical journal that will showcase patient safety lessons drawn from actual cases of medical errors. Called AHRQ WebM&M (Morbidity and Mortality Rounds on the Web), the site is designed to educate health care providers about medical errors in an engaging and blame-free environment.  The site, to be officially launched in February 2003, is now open for case submission. Authors of cases chosen for posting will receive an honorarium while retaining their anonymity.  Every month, five interesting cases of medical errors and patient safety problems—one each in medicine, surgery/anesthesiology, obstetrics-gynecology, pediatrics, and psychiatry—will be posted along with commentaries from distinguished experts and a forum for readers' comments.  Each month, one of these five cases will be expanded into an interactive learning module ("Spotlight Case") featuring readers' polls, quizzes, and other multimedia elements and offering continuing medical education credits. Select to preview the M&M site and learn how to submit cases anonymously.

3.  Article in NEJM on Heart Attack Survivors and Followup Care

Heart attack patients fare better if they are treated by a cardiologist and better still if they are treated by a cardiologist and a family physician or internist rather than by a primary care physician alone after they go home from the hospital, according to an AHRQ-funded study published in the November 21 New England Journal of Medicine. According to Harvard Medical School researcher John Ayanian, M.D., who led the study, the tests and procedures that cardiologists can provide their patients, such as exercise testing, angiograms, heart bypass surgery, and cardiac rehabilitation, combined with the experience that primary care physicians have in managing common chronic illnesses, may explain the success of this combination. Select to access the AHRQ press release.

4.  New Easy-To-Read Smoking Cessation Publications Available

To help support the Great American Smokeout on November 21, AHRQ produced a series of three new, easy-to-read publications for smokers who are trying to quit. They include:

  • Good Information for Smokers, an easy-to-read consumer booklet that lists ways to get help to quit smoking.
  • You Can Quit Smoking, a pocket card with four quick tips to help smokers get ready to quit.
  • A 5-Day Countdown to Your Quit Date, a pocket sized flipbook with a little more detail on preparing to quit.

Select to access the new publications. Print copies can be obtained by calling the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at 1-800-358-9295, or by sending an E-mail to

5.  Call for Abstracts for Child Health Services Research Meeting in June

For the second time, the Child Health Services Research meeting is issuing a Call for Panels, offering researchers the opportunity to disseminate their findings and provide policymakers and providers with the information they need to make sound decisions to improve our nation's health care. The meeting will be held June 26 at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville. Select to access the preliminary program and the registration form. Applications must be E-mailed and received by January 15, 2003. We encourage you to submit early!

6.  Job Openings at AHRQ

AHRQ is seeking applicants for the positions of Director of the Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety and Director of the Patient Safety Program. Select to access these and other vacancy announcements.

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.

Weil E, Wachterman M, McCarthy EP, et al. Obesity among adults with disabling conditions. JAMA 2002 Sep 11; 288(10):1265-8. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Hlatky MA, Saynina O, McDonald KM, et al. Utilizations and outcomes of the implantable cardioverter defibrillator, 1987 to 1995. Am Heart J 2002 Sep; 144(3):397-403. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Fisman DN, Mittleman MA, Sorock GS, et al. Willingness to pay to avoid sharps-related injuries: a study in injured health care workers. Am J Infect Control 2002 Aug; 30(5):283-7. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Beckham JC, Calhoun PS, Glenn DM, et al. Posttraumatic stress disorder, hostility, and health in women: a review of current research. Ann Behav Med 2002 Summer; 24(3):219-28. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Freburger JK, Donrad TR. The use of federal and state databases to conduct health services research related to physical and occupational therapy. Arch Phy Med Rehabil 2002 Jun; 83(6):837-45. 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 November 2002


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