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March 21, 2003, Issue No. 93

AHRQ News and Numbers

One in six hospital stays for care after childbirth is due to hypertension, bleeding, or diabetes during pregnancy. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, HCUP Fact Book #3, 2002.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. HHS to test use of handheld device network for transmitting urgent information about biological agents to clinicians
  2. AHRQ National Advisory Council meeting scheduled for March 28
  3. HCUP 2000 Kids' Inpatient Database available
  4. New evidence report summary on allergic rhinitis available
  5. New evidence report summary available on risks associated with low birth weight
  6. New evidence report summary on vaginal birth after cesarean available
  7. New evidence report summary available on disability and chronic fatigue syndrome
  8. What's new at the National Quality Measures Clearinghouse™
  9. Job openings at AHRQ
  10. New AHRQ publication
  11. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  HHS to Test Use of Handheld Device Network for Transmitting Urgent Information About Biological Agents to Clinicians

HHS Secretary Thompson announced that the Department will begin testing a system using handheld personal digital assistants (PDAs) for transmitting urgent information about high-threat biological agents to clinicians. The 3-month pilot test of the PDA network, created by ePocrates, is designed to gauge the best ways for federal officials to communicate effectively with front-line clinicians in the event of a bioterrorist attack. The project will evaluate how and when clinicians download this urgent information and whether they find it useful to receive it via their PDAs. Select to access the HHS press release.

2.  AHRQ National Advisory Council Meeting Scheduled for March 28

The AHRQ National Advisory Council is scheduled to meet on Friday, March 28, in Room 800, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC. The Council will discuss these specific topics: research on health care costs, patient safety, and research on long-term care.

3.  HCUP 2000 Kids' Inpatient Database Available

AHRQ announced the availability of year 2000 data for its Kids' Inpatient Database (KID), a unique and powerful database that researchers, policymakers, and others can use to identify, track, and analyze national trends in children's health care utilization, access, charges, quality of care, and outcomes. The 2000 KID contains data from approximately 1.9 million hospital discharges of children 20 years of age and younger in 27 states. Select to access more information, including examples of the types of analyses suited for KID, users who could benefit, technical details, and purchasing information.

4.  New Evidence Report Summary on Allergic Rhinitis Available

AHRQ has released an evidence report summary on Management of Allergic Rhinitis in the Working-Age Population, which was produced by AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Center at Duke University. The report states that while no studies have found effective treatments for allergic rhinitis symptoms from all causes, there is some evidence that specific measures relieve symptoms for particular patients. For instance, specific actions taken to control dust mites, such as impervious covers for bedding or extra house cleaning, can reduce rhinitis symptoms for people allergic to dust mites. In addition, combination treatments such as antihistamines plus decongestants or antihistamines plus steroid nasal sprays work better than single treatments such as antihistamines alone. Select to access the press release and the summary. A print copy is available by sending an E-mail to

5.  New Evidence Report Summary Available on Risks Associated with Low Birth Weight

We issued the summary of a new evidence report on Criteria for Determining Disability in Infants and Children: Low Birth Weight. Researchers at AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Center at the New England Medical Center in Boston synthesized 170 articles demonstrating the increased risk of long-term disabling outcomes associated with very low birth weights. The outcomes evaluated include cerebral palsy, mental retardation, communication, behavioral and visual impairments, adverse pulmonary function, and disrupted growth. Select to access the summary. A print copy is available by sending an E-mail to

6.  New Evidence Report Summary on Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Available

We released the summary of a new evidence report on Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC). It was developed for AHRQ by its Oregon Health & Science University Evidence-based Practice Center. The purpose of the report was to compare the harms and benefits of delivery options for women with prior cesarean delivery, but the researchers found that there is insufficient evidence to allow conclusions about the most appropriate delivery choice for a given patient. However, evidence does demonstrate the inability of x-ray pelvimetry (XRP) to predict reliably the route of delivery. In addition, the researchers found that maternal death rates do not differ between vaginal and elective repeat cesarean delivery. The report identifies many areas for future research. Select to access the summary. A print copy is available by sending an E-mail to

7.  New Evidence Report Summary Available on Disability and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

We released the summary of a new evidence report, Systematic Review of the Current Literature Related to Disability and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The purpose of this project, nominated by the Social Security Administration, and contracted through AHRQ, was to develop an evidence base that would provide SSA with the most current medical and scientific knowledge for evaluating disability as defined by the SSA in people with chronic fatigue syndrome. The review also serves to highlight gaps in the current literature and areas ripe for future research. The report was prepared by AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Center at MetaWorks, Inc. Select to access the summary. A print copy is available by sending an E-mail to

8.  What's New at the National Quality Measures Clearinghouse™

Select to access new features and measures that have been added to AHRQ's National Quality Measures Clearinghouse™ (NQMC)—a Web-based public resource of the most current evidence-based quality measures and measure sets available to evaluate and improve the quality of health care—go to. You can receive updates to the site via E-mail by subscribing to the NQMC Weekly Update Service. For information on submitting quality measures, or for general questions, please send an E-mail to

9.  Job Openings at AHRQ

Select to access the vacancy announcements.

10.  New AHRQ Publications

The Safety Net Monitoring Collaborative Fact Sheet.

AHRQ and HRSA are leading a joint safety net monitoring initiative. This fact sheet describes the activities of the Safety Net Monitoring Collaborative. The goal is to help local policymakers, planners, and analysts monitor the status of their local safety nets and the populations they serve. Strategies include providing baseline data and a set of tools that enable monitoring of the capacity and performance of local safety nets.

A print copy is available by sending an E-mail to

11.  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.

Mehta RL, McDonald B, Gabbai F, et al. Nephrology consultation in acute renal failure: does timing matter? Am J Med 2002 Oct 15;113(6):456-61. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Hartert TV, Speroff T, Togias A. Risk factors for recurrent asthma hospital visits and death among a population of indigent older adults with asthma. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2002 Nov;89(5):467-73. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Mower WR, Hoffman JR, Herbert M, et al. Developing a clinical decision instrument to rule out intracranial injuries in patients with minor head trauma: methodology of the NEXUS II investigation. Ann Emerg Med 2002 Nov;40(5):505-14. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Manski RJ, Macek MD, Moeller JF. Private dental coverage: who has it and how does it influence dental visits and expenditures? J Am Dent Assoc 2002 Nov;133(11):1551-9. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Holtzman J, Saleh K, Kane R. Effect of baseline functional status and pain on outcomes of total hip arthroplasty. J Bone Joint Surg 2002 Nov;84-A(11) 1942-8. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of March 2003


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