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December 20, 2002, Issue No. 82

AHRQ News and Numbers

The average length of hospital stay increases by age regardless of sex. Nevertheless, for each age cohort, male patients have higher total hospital charges than nonobstetric female patients. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, HCUP Fact Book #3, 2002]

Today's Headlines:

  1. NEJM study on 1-day hospital maternity stays
  2. HHS Secretary Thompson appoints new members to AHRQ National Advisory Council
  3. AHRQ releases new women's health care fact book
  4. Call for abstracts for Child Health Services Research meeting in June
  5. Do you know how AHRQ's research is being used?
  6. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  NEJM study on 1-day hospital maternity stays

An AHRQ-funded study found no ill effects from discharging infants in a large Massachusetts HMO from the hospital 1 day after uncomplicated vaginal birth, compared with sending them home with their mothers 2 days after birth. But because a sharp rise in hospital costs offset the savings realized by limiting postpartum stays to 1 day, the health plan's average per-delivery expenses decreased only $90 while this policy was in practice. The article, "Effects of a law against early postpartum discharge on newborn follow-up, adverse events, and health maintenance organization expenditures," by Drs. Jeanne M. Madden, Stephen B. Soumerai, Tracy A. Lieu, and others, was published in the December 19 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Visit to read our press release.

2.  HHS Secretary Thompson Appoints New Members to AHRQ National Advisory Council

HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson announced the appointments of 12 new members to AHRQ's National Advisory Council. They are:

  • Donald Berwick, M.D., M.P.P., Institute for Healthcare Improvement
  • Timothy F. Cullen, Cobalt Corporation
  • Lisa Egbuonu-Davis, M.D., Pfizer, Inc.
  • Barbara Ann Barth Frink, Ph.D., R.N., Cerner Corporation
  • Elena Fuentes-Afflick, M.D., M.P.H., University of California, San Francisco
  • The Honorable Newt Gingrich, American Enterprise Institute
  • Brent C. James, M.D., Intermountain Health Care
  • Jonathan T. Lord, M.D., Humana, Inc.
  • Dennis O'Leary, M.D., Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
  • Mark Pauly, Ph.D., The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
  • Robert Rex Waller, M.D., Mayo Foundation
  • Pamela Jean Woods, Ph.D., University of New Mexico Hospital
Go to to read our press release for more details about the new and reappointed members of the 19-member council.

3.  AHRQ Releases New Women's Health Care Fact Book

A new women's health care fact book from AHRQ shows that pregnancy and childbirth accounted for 4.4 million hospital admissions in 2000, or one of every four hospital stays, and that depression was the second leading reason for the hospitalization of younger women. Other leading reasons for admitting younger women to the hospital include uterine fibroids, gallbladder disease, back problems, and asthma. These statistics are from Care of Women in U.S. Hospitals, 2000, a fact book that includes a wealth of data on why women of different ages are hospitalized, what happens to them in the hospital, what hospitals charge for their care, and who pays the bill. The report is based on data from AHRQ's Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a powerful database that is part of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. It provides national estimates based on a sample of approximately 1,000 hospitals and 7 million hospital discharges. The new fact book is the third in a series of AHRQ publications that provides detailed statistical information on different aspects of hospital care. To obtain a copy of the fact book, call the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at 1-800-358-9295 or send an E-mail to Go to to read our press release and to view the publication.

4.  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 health providers the information they need to make sound decisions to improve our nation's health. The meeting, which will be held June 26 at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, will spotlight plenary sessions and four tracks: skill building, cutting-edge research, cutting-edge policy, and priority topics in child health research. Researchers are encouraged to collaborate with colleagues and submit an organized program of findings from child health services research for a full 90-minute session. The lead organizer should submit a proposal that includes a brief overview of the panel and individual abstracts from the presenters. Visit to see the preliminary program and the registration form. Applications must be received by January 15.

5.  Do You Know How AHRQ's Research Is Being Used?

We are always looking for ways in which AHRQ-funded research, products, and tools have changed people's lives, influenced clinical practice, improved policies, and affected patient outcomes. Impact case studies describe AHRQ research findings in action. These case studies have been used in testimony, budget documents, and speeches. We would like to know if you are aware of any impact your AHRQ-funded research has had on health care policy, clinical practice, or patient outcomes. Contact AHRQ's Impact Case Studies Program at (301) 427-1243 with your impact stories.

6.  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.

Iezzoni LI, Davis RB, Soukup J, et al. Satisfaction with quality and access to health care among people with disabling conditions. Int J Qual Health Care 2002 Oct; 14(5):369-381. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Santibanez TA, Nowalk P, Zimmerman RK, et al. Knowledge and beliefs about influenza, pneumococcal disease, and immunizations among older people. J Am Geriatr Soc 2002 Oct; 50 (10):1711-1716. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Morales LS, Lara M, Kington RS, et al. Socioeconomic, cultural, and behavioral factors affecting Hispanic health outcomes. J Health Care Poor Underserved 2002 Nov; 13(4):477-503. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Baker DW, Einstadter D, Thomas CL, et al. Mortality trends during a program that publicly reported hospital performance. Med Care 2002 Oct; 40(10):879-890. 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 December 2002


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