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December 06, 2002, Issue No. 80

AHRQ News and Numbers

The average total charge for treating U.S. patients hospitalized for total or partial thyroidectomy increased from $7,444 in 1993 to $10,875 in 2000. The total number of hospital discharges decreased from 50,289 to 47,066, while the average length of stay decreased from 2.4 days to 1.9 days during that time period. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, HCUPnet, 2000.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. Task Force issues findings on screening for prostate cancer
  2. MEPS statistical brief: the uninsured in America, 1996-2001
  3. Reducing costs in the health care system: learning from what has been done
  4. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association patient safety supplement now available
  5. AHRQ puts HIV medical care cost and use data online
  6. John Eisenberg posthumously awarded JCAHO's Ernest A. Codman Award
  7. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  Task Force Issues Findings on Screening for Prostate Cancer

Although screening for prostate cancer is a common part of a routine checkup for American men, a new finding from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force concludes there is insufficient scientific evidence to promote routine screening for all men and inconclusive evidence that early detection improves health outcomes. The finding was published in the December 3 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. Select for the AHRQ press release and the recommendation.

2.  MEPS Statistical Brief: The Uninsured in America, 1996-2001

AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) released a new statistical brief: The Uninsured in America, 1996-2001. The number of uninsured Americans under age 65 varied depending on how the period of uninsurance was defined. In 2000, 61.7 million were uninsured at some point during the year, 43.8 million were uninsured throughout the first half of the year, and 31.5 million people were uninsured all year. In 2000, 25.9 percent of people under age 65 were uninsured at some point during the year, 18.2 percent were uninsured throughout the first half of the year, and 13.3 percent were uninsured the entire year. From 1996 to 1999, the percent of children uninsured all year declined from 10.4 percent to 7.8 percent. By 2000, 9.1 percent of children were uninsured all year. Select for the brief (PDF File, 246 KB; PDF Help).

3.  Reducing Costs in the Health Care System: Learning From What Has Been Done

AHRQ released a Research in Action synthesis describing evidence-based research that demonstrates which strategies reduce health care costs and which strategies have only mixed results. In addition, the synthesis reviews some of the new research efforts underway. Select for the synthesis, "Reducing Costs in the Health Care System: Learning From What Has Been Done." A print copy is available by sending an E-mail to

4.  Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association Patient Safety Supplement Now Available

AHRQ sponsored a Patient Safety Track at last year's annual conference of the American Medical Informatics Association, and selected articles and presentations from the track are now available as part of a new patient safety supplement to the November/December issue of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. The supplement includes a review article that discusses AHRQ's patient safety initiatives in 2001 as well as an article on Federal government initiatives in patient safety. To request a copy of the supplement, please send an E-mail to

5.  AHRQ Puts HIV Medical Care Cost and Use Data Online

AHRQ has added HIV medical care use and costs to its line of Web-based interactive tools for providing the public with key statistics on various aspects of Americans' health care. AHRQ's HIVnet lets users analyze data on outpatient and inpatient services used by HIV patients and associated costs, according to a wide array of factors including age group, race/ethnicity, type of insurance, or insurance status, HIV risk group, and whether or not the patients used protease inhibitors. Select to view the data.

6.  John Eisenberg Posthumously Awarded JCAHO's Ernest A. Codman Award

The late John M. Eisenberg, M.D. was one of the recipients of the sixth annual Ernest A. Codman Award by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. The awards, which will be presented December 11 in Chicago during JCAHO's National Conference on Quality and Safety in Health Care, recognize organizations and individuals for excellence in the use of outcomes measurement by health care organizations to achieve improvements in the quality and safety of health care. Dr. Eisenberg, who is the first posthumous recipient of the Codman Award for individuals, will be honored as "a passionate advocate for patient safety until the time of his death in March 2002, serving as director of the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and bringing unprecedented national visibility to the role of researchers in reducing medical errors." Select for the press release announcing the awards.

7.  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.

Udelson JE, Beshansky JR, Ballin DS, et al. Myocardial Perfusion Imaging for Evaluation and Triage of Patients with Suspected Acute Cardiac Ischemia: A Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA 2002 Dec;288(21):2693-700. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Hsu J, Uratsu C, Truman A, et al. Life after a ventricular arrhythmia. Am Heart J 2002 Sep;144(3):404-12. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Buchanan RJ. Medicaid managed care and coverage of prescription medications. Am J Public Health 2002 Aug;92(8):1238-43. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Touger M, Gennis P, Nathanson N, et al. Validity of a decision rule to reduce cervical spine radiography in elderly patients with blunt trauma. Ann Emerg Med 2002 Sep;40(3):287-93. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Kinchen KS, Sadler J, Fink N, et al. The timing of specialist evaluation in chronic kidney disease and mortality. Ann Intern Med 2002 Sep 17;137(6):479-46. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Avorn J, Bohnm RL, Levy E, et al. Nephrologist care and mortality in patients with chronic renal insufficiency. Arch Intern Med 2002 Sep 23;162(17):2002-06. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of December 2002


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