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February 14, 2003, Issue No. 88

AHRQ News and Numbers

Among those age 18 to 64, adults only with public insurance were the most likely to report having an illness or injury needing urgent care. The insured were more likely than the uninsured to report needing urgent care (41.3% for public only, 32.2% for any private, and 27.4% for uninsured). [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Statistical Brief #8: Access to Urgent Medical Care: 2001, December 2002 (PDF File, 431 KB; PDF Help).]

Today's Headlines:

  1. AHRQ WebM&M online patient safety journal launched
  2. New AHRQ Research in Action highlights tools and resources for better health care
  3. AHRQ director quoted in a Wall Street Journal article about unnecessary tests
  4. Child Health Services Research meeting in June
  5. Highlights from the most recent edition of our monthly newsletter
  6. Do you know how AHRQ's research is being used?
  7. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  AHRQ WebM&M Online Patient Safety Journal Launched

AHRQ's newest Web site, AHRQ WebM&M, previewed in recent issues of the AHRQ Electronic Newsletter, was officially launched this week. This peer-reviewed, Web-based medical journal showcases patient safety lessons drawn from actual cases of medical errors. Every month, five cases of medical errors and patient safety problems across a broad array of medical specialties are posted, along with commentaries from distinguished experts and a forum for readers' comments. In its inaugural issue, the Web-based journal features cases on a mix-up involving two patients with the same last name in the same hospital room; a mistaken drug administration causing a patient to stop breathing unexpectedly; a procedural mishap requiring emergency vascular surgery; an infusion pump flying into an MRI, narrowly missing a child; and a misdiagnosis of delusions in a man later found to have metastatic brain and spine cancer. Select to access the press release and the WebM&M site.

2.  New AHRQ Research in Action Highlights Tools and Resources for Better Health Care

Ever wonder what the difference is between MEPSnet and HCUPnet? Heard about the NQMC? Looked at our new hospital bioterrorism preparedness tool? For the most current and best introduction to AHRQ's "toolbox," take a look at our new Research in Action synthesis AHRQ Tools and Resources for Better Health Care. From databases to patient education materials, from quality measures to research syntheses, all of the resources further AHRQ's goal to improve the quality of health care. With materials appropriate for policymakers, clinicians, health care professionals, and patients, this publication provides information to help our stakeholders better understand our diverse portfolio. Select to access the synthesis. A print copy is available by sending an E-mail to

3.  AHRQ Director Quoted in a Wall Street Journal Article About Unnecessary Tests

AHRQ Director Dr. Carolyn Clancy discussed the need for being prudent about medical tests in an article in the February 13 Wall Street Journal. "It's easy to define retroactively what was an unnecessary test, but to define it prospectively is much tougher," said Dr. Clancy, who advised patients to take an active role in determining whether a test is right for them or a family member. "Patients need to ask clear questions about whether a test is necessary, whether it is necessary now, or whether it is better to wait and see what happens," she told the Wall Street Journal's Laura Landro, who writes the "Informed Patient" column. The article also referenced recent preventive services recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

4.  Child Health Services Research Meeting in June

The Child Health Services Research meeting will be held June 26 at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville. The meeting 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. Select to access the preliminary program and the registration form.

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

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

  • Researchers link cigarette smoking in adolescents with excessive television viewing.

The number of U.S. adolescents who smoke cigarettes has been increasing since 1991, with 70 percent of smokers becoming regular smokers by age 18. Despite bans on television tobacco advertising, smoking on television remains widespread. and young people apparently notice it. The research study, led by Pradeep P. Gidwani, M.D., M.P.H., of Children's Hospital and Health Center in San Diego, found youths who watch five or more hours of TV per day are six times more likely to begin smoking cigarettes than youths who watch less than two hours a day.

Other articles are:

  • Researchers examine strategies to improve asthma outcomes.
  • Many doctors lack basic knowledge about venous thromboembolism and how to treat it.
  • Study demonstrates a powerful association between decreasing social class and poor health and behavior problems in children.
  • Despite greater poverty, less education, and less access to care, Hispanics tend to have similar or better health than whites.
  • Physician retention may depend on preventing their dissatisfaction with pay and community relationships.

Select for these articles and others.

6.  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.

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.

Croskerry P. Achieving quality in clinical decisionmaking: cognitive strategies and detection of bias. Acad Emerg Med 2002 Nov;9(11):1184-1204. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Telleen S, Martin E. Improving information access for public health professionals. J Med Syst 2002 Dec;26(6):529-43. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Bradley CJ, Bednarek HL. Employment patterns of long-term cancer survivors. Psycho-Oncology 2002 May-Jun;11(3):188-98. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Elixhauser A, Machlin SR, Zodet MW, et al. Health care for children and youth in the United States: 2002 annual report on access, utilization, quality, and expenditures. Ambul Pediatr 2002 Nov-Dec;2(6):419-37. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Shye D, Brown JB, Mullooly JP, et al. Understanding changes in primary care clinicians' satisfaction from depression care activities during adoption of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Am J Manag Care 2002 Nov;8(11):963-74. 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 February 2003


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