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January 24, 2003, Issue No. 85

AHRQ News and Numbers

Half of hospital stays for all female patients are admitted routinely while about 2 in 5 originate in the emergency department. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, HCUP Fact Book #3, 2002.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. USPSTF recommends regular cervical cancer screening but supports less frequent screening for some women
  2. AHRQ Web-assisted audio conferences on bioterrorism and health system preparedness
  3. AHRQ launch of online patient safety journal coming soon
  4. Evidence report summary available on worker-related musculoskeletal disorders
  5. Highlights from the most recent edition of our monthly newsletter
  6. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  USPSTF Recommends Regular Cervical Cancer Screening But Supports Less Frequent Screening for Some Women

The Task Force has strongly recommended that women between the ages of 21 and 65 be screened regularly for cervical cancer, but it concluded that some women can safely discontinue regular screening or can be screened less frequently. For women age 65 and over who have had regular normal Pap smears, the Task Force concluded that the harms of continued routine screening such as false positive tests and invasive procedures may outweigh the benefits. For younger women who have had at least two normal annual screenings, the Task Force found no evidence that annual screening achieves better outcomes than screening every 3 years. Pap testing followed by appropriate treatment can effectively prevent invasive cervical cancer by detecting precancerous lesions before they grow and spread. Select to access the press release and to read the recommendation.

2.  AHRQ Web-Assisted Audio Conferences on Bioterrorism and Health System Preparedness

Mark your calendars! AHRQ is sponsoring a new series of five free Web-assisted audio conference calls on bioterrorism and health system preparedness. These 90-minute calls are designed to share the latest health services research findings, promising practices, and other important information with State and local health officials and key health systems decisionmakers. The first call of this series will be held on Tuesday, February 18, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m., EST (note date change) and will focus on smallpox immunization issues, strategies, and tools.

3.  AHRQ Launch of Online Patient Safety Journal Coming Soon

The official launch of AHRQ WebM&M, AHRQ's peer-reviewed, Web-based medical journal that will showcase patient safety lessons drawn from actual cases of medical errors, is scheduled for next month. Edited by a team at the University of California, San Francisco, the Web-based journal is designed to educate health care providers about medical errors in an engaging and blame-free environment. Authors of cases chosen for posting will receive an honorarium while retaining their anonymity. Every month, five cases of medical errors and patient safety problems across a broad array of medical specialties will be posted along with commentaries from distinguished experts and a forum for readers' comments. Select to learn how to submit cases anonymously. By registering through the site (as more than 1,500 have done already), you can also choose to receive monthly notices of topics and commentaries starting in mid-February.

4.  Evidence Report Summary Available on Worker-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders

We issued the summary of a new evidence report called Diagnosis and Treatment of Worker-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders of the Upper Extremity that was developed by AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Center at ECRI's Health Technology Assessment Group. Four disorders are covered in this report: carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome, which are the result of increased pressure on the nerves in the wrist and elbow; and epicondylitis and de Quervain's disease, which are the result of stress to the tendons of the elbow and wrist, respectively. All four disorders can lead to pain, loss of function, and long-term disability. The researchers assessed the published literature describing the effects of these disorders on patients, particularly workers before and after treatment. They addressed 13 questions regarding worker-related disorders of the upper extremity. Select to access the summary. A print copy of the summary is available by sending an E-mail to

5.  Highlights from the Most Recent Edition of our Monthly Newsletter

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

  • Researchers assess optimal timing of surgery following one or more attacks of uncomplicated diverticulitis.

Twenty-five to 30 percent of people who have an attack of diverticulitis will have another one within 5 years. These attacks, caused by inflammation of one or more diverticula (pouchlike herniations through the muscular layer of the colon), cause cramping pain over the colon and fever. Severe attacks can involve an abscess in the tissues surrounding the colon, which can become obstructed, requiring urgent surgery and sometimes colostomy.

Other articles are:

  1. Researchers examine the risk factors for sudden cardiac death and management of at-risk patients.
  2. Published reports of in-hospital deaths for certain conditions may not accurately portray outcomes of hospital care.
  3. Researchers examine age and race differences in treatment of breast cancer.
  4. Many elderly people believe they are unlikely to get the flu and don't realize they need the pneumonia vaccine.
  5. Provider-sponsored managed care organizations work best when community leaders and health professionals are involved.

Select to access these articles and others.

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.

Richards RJ, Hammitt JK. Timing of prophylactic surgery in prevention of diverticulitis recurrence. Dig Dis Sci 2002 Sep;47(9):1903-8. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Stivers T. Presenting the problem in pediatric encounters: "symptoms only" versus "candidate diagnosis" presentations. Health Commun 2002;14(3):299-338. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Saleh SS, Vaughn T, Rohrer JE. The effect of governing board composition on rural hospitals' involvement in provider-sponsored managed care organizations. J Healthcare Manag 2002 Sep-Oct;47(5):321-33. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Sokol P, Cummins DS. A needs assessment for patient safety education: focusing on the nursing perspective. Nurs Econ 2002 Sep-Oct;20(5):245-8. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Fisman DN, Lipsitch M, Hook EW 3rd, et al. Projection of the future dimensions and costs of the genital herpes simplex Type 2 epidemic in the United States. Sex Transm Dis 2002 Oct;29(10):608-22. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Silverman M, Terry MA, Zimmerman RK, et al. The role of qualitative methods for investigating barriers to adult immunization. Qual Health Res 2002 Oct;12(8):1058-75. 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 January 2003


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