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HHS Awards $17 Million in a New National Initiative to Fight Health Care-Associated Infections

Electronic Newsletter, Issue 284

Electronic Newsletter

October 23, 2009

AHRQ News and Numbers

Hospital emergency departments treated more than 2 million seniors for broken bones, head wounds, cuts and other injuries caused by falls in 2006 at a cost to hospitals of approximately $7 billion for emergency and subsequent inpatient care. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, HCUP, Statistical Brief #80: Emergency Department Visits for Injurious Falls Among the Elderly, 2006

Today's Headlines

  1. HHS awards $17 million in a new national initiative to fight health care-associated infections
  2. AHRQ National Advisory Council's Patient Safety and Medical Liability Reform Subcommittee to meet October 26
  3. High blood pressure medicines show promise for treating heart disease
  4. New tools help emergency planners select alternate care facilities and transfer patient during disasters
  5. AHRQ releases key findings for health IT researchers and implementers
  6. New evidence report shows consumer health informatics applications can improve health care processes
  7. Request for nominations for National Advisory Council for Healthcare Research and Quality
  8. Innovation Exchange to hold online discussion series with innovators
  9. HCUP Workshop on November 7 at APHA's Annual Meeting
  10. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  HHS Awards $17 Million in a New National Initiative to Fight Health Care-Associated Infections

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced the award of $17 million to fund projects to fight costly and dangerous health care-associated infections (HAIs). HAIs are one of the most common complications of hospital care. Nearly 2 million patients develop HAIs, which contribute to 99,000 deaths each year and $28 billion to $33 billion in health care costs. Of the $17 million in new awards, $8 million will fund a national expansion of the Keystone Project, which within 18 months successfully reduced the rate of central-line blood stream infections in more than 100 Michigan intensive care units and saved 1,500 lives and $200 million. The project was originally started by the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and the Michigan Health & Hospital Association to implement a comprehensive unit-based safety program. The program involves using a checklist of evidence-based safety practices; staff training and other tools for preventing infections that can be implemented in hospital units; standard and consistent measurement of infection rates; and tools to improve teamwork among doctors, nurses and hospital leaders. Earlier this year, AHRQ funded an expansion of this project to 10 states. With additional funding from AHRQ and a private foundation, the Keystone Project is now operating in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. The new funding announced today will expand the effort to more hospitals, extend it to other settings in addition to ICUs, and broaden the focus to address other types of infections. In addition, AHRQ, in collaboration with the CDC, also identified several high-priority areas to apply the remaining $9 million toward reducing MRSA and other types of HAIs. Select for a complete list of institutions funded by the $17 million in resources awarded today and select for the HHS press release.

2.  AHRQ National Advisory Council's Patient Safety and Medical Liability Reform Subcommittee to Meet October 26

The AHRQ National Advisory Council's Subcommittee on Patient Safety and Medical Liability Reform will meet Monday, October 26, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Capitol Hill, 550 C Street, S.W., Washington DC, 20024. The subcommittee will provide advice for the Department of Health and Human Services' new medical liability initiative, which is being lead by AHRQ for HHS. The meeting is open to the public, and attendees will have an opportunity to provide comment. Registration is required, and seating is limited. This new initiative will test models that improve patient safety and reduce preventable injuries, foster better communication between doctors and patients, ensure patients are compensated in a fair and timely manner, and reduce liability premiums.

3.  High Blood Pressure Medicines Show Promise for Treating Heart Disease

Two medications commonly used to treat high blood pressure appear to be effective in treating a common type of heart disease known as stable ischemic heart disease, according to a new AHRQ comparative effectiveness review. A version of the analysis was posted in the October 20 online version of the Annals of Internal Medicine. Treatment featuring the two medications—inhibitors of angiotensin-converting enzyme, or ACE inhibitors, and angiotensin receptor blockers, or ARBs—can lead to a reduction in death, risk of heart attack, risk of stroke and fewer hospitalizations for heart failure for patients suffering from stable ischemic heart disease, researchers found. However, the drugs have risks of their own. Risks associated with ACE inhibitors include a persistent cough, sudden fainting, too much potassium in the blood, and dangerously low blood pressure. Risks associated with ARBs include too much potassium in the blood and low blood pressure. The AHRQ report found that patients with stable ischemic heart disease who take an ACE inhibitor in addition to standard treatment can reduce the likelihood of several negative outcomes, including death from heart attack or heart failure, non-fatal heart attacks, hospitalization for heart failure, and revascularization. Patients who take an ARB in addition to standard medications can reduce their risk of death from a heart-related cause, heart attack or stroke. Select to read our press release and select to access the report.

4.  New Tools Help Emergency Planners Select Alternate Care Facilities and Transfer Patients During Disasters

AHRQ released two interactive computer tools to help emergency planners and responders select and run alternate care facilities during disaster situations. In such instances, hospitals experiencing a surge in seriously ill patients requiring acute care may need to transfer less ill patients efficiently to alternate care sites. Alternate care facilities are locations that can easily and quickly be equipped to augment or replace health care services when hospitals and other traditional care sites are inoperable or overwhelmed. Potential alternate care sites include college campuses, gymnasiums, schools, community centers, health clubs, convention centers or climate-controlled warehouses. The two tools allow users to input information on their specific medical care needs and receive feedback on which facilities can become alternate care sites or which patients can appropriately be moved to those sites. The Disaster Alternate Care Facilities Selection Tool is an interactive worksheet that assists users in selecting sites and identifying what they need to prepare these sites for use. It evaluates the characteristics of several potential facilities and calculates the results into weighted scores, which planners can use to select appropriate sites for care and plan for operations during a disaster. The Disaster Alternate Care Facility Patient Selection Tool is a decision support tool that matches a hospitalized patient's clinical needs with the capabilities of an alternate care facility. This information may help clinicians determine which patients might be eligible for discharge or transfer to an alternate care facility to increase a hospital's capacity for incoming patients. Select to read our press release and select to access the tools.

5.  AHRQ Releases Key Findings for Health IT Researchers and Implementers

AHRQ has developed a new report, Summary of Health IT Portfolio 2008, that highlights key findings from its health IT projects. The report presents an overview of nearly 150 summaries by strategic and business goals, project milestones, and other characteristics. It is a valuable tool for health IT researchers and individuals interested in synthesizing health IT research and identifying gaps. Researchers and implementers of health IT now have access to practical examples for planning and conducting their research and implementing projects. Select to view the new report [PDF File] [Plugin Software Help].

6.  New Evidence Report Shows Consumer Health Informatics Applications Can Improve Health Care Processes

AHRQ released a new evidence report, Impact of Consumer Health Informatics Applications, which found that consumer health informatics applications can help improve health care processes, such as medication adherence. These applications are defined as patient-focused electronic tools to support health improvement, process outcomes, and patient-centered care. The benefits of using such applications apply to a variety of clinical conditions, including cancer, smoking, diabetes mellitus, physical activity, and mental health disorders. The report also identified important knowledge gaps in the new and emerging field of consumer health informatics. Researchers, led by M. Christopher Gibbons, M.D., M.P.H., at AHRQ's Johns Hopkins University Evidence-based Practice Center, concluded that while the applications offer significant promise and potential to positively impact select clinical outcomes, more research is needed to determine conclusions on impact in many areas. Select to access the report. A print copy is available by sending an e-mail to

7.  Request for Nominations for National Advisory Council for Healthcare Research and Quality

AHRQ is seeking nominations for seven new public members for its National Advisory Council for Healthcare Research and Quality, which advises the Secretary of HHS and the Director of AHRQ on matters related to actions of the Agency to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans. The 21-member Council meets in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, generally in Rockville, MD, approximately three times a year. Members generally serve 3-year terms, and new members will start their service in the spring of 2010. AHRQ is seeking individuals who are distinguished in the conduct of research, demonstration projects, and evaluations with respect to health care; in the field of health care quality research or health care improvement; in the practice of medicine or other health professions; in the private health care sector (including health plans, providers, purchasers) or administrators of health care delivery systems; in the fields of health care economics, information systems, law, ethics, business, or public policy; and in representing the interests of patients and consumers of health care. Nominations are due November 20 and should be mailed to Deborah Queenan, AHRQ, 540 Gaither Road, Room 3238, Rockville, MD 20850 or faxed to her at (301) 427-1341. Select to read the October 9 Federal Register notice.

8.  Innovation Exchange to Hold Online Discussion Series with Innovators

AHRQ's Health Care Innovations Exchange is holding a Chats on Change, a new online discussion series with innovators, on October 26 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EDT. Learn about implementing and managing a patient-provider e-mail system from a practicing physician. Paul Rosen, M.D., at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh, will moderate an online conversation about his health care innovation. Select to learn more and register.

9.  HCUP Workshop on November 7 at APHA's Annual Meeting

AHRQ's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) will be conducting a workshop at the American Public Health Association (APHA) Learning Institute in Philadelphia, PA, on November 7. The three-and-half-hour workshop will introduce health services and policy researchers to the HCUP databases and related resources that will enable them to apply HCUP data to their research interests. Select for more information about the workshop Exit disclaimer icon. Space is limited and a separate course registration fee is required for this session, which AHRQ has subsidized to $50. Participants can receive CME, CNE, or CHES continuing education credits for attending. For more information, please visit the APHA Continuing Education Web site Exit disclaimer icon. Select to register Exit disclaimer icon .

10.  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.

Cobaugh D, Angner E, Kiefe C, et al. Effect of racial differences on ability to afford prescription medications. Am J Health Syst Pharm 2008 Nov 15; 65(22):2137-43. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Rosolowsky ET, Niewczas MA, Ficociello LH, et al. Between hyperfiltration and impairment: demystifying early renal functional changes in diabetic nephropathy. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 2008 Nov 13; 82 (Suppl 1):S46-S53. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Rosen J, Mulsant BH, Marino P, et al. Web-based training and interrater reliability testing for scoring the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. Psychiatry Res 2008; 161(1):126-30. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Plow MA, Mathiowetz V, Resnik L, et al. Multiple sclerosis: impact of physical activity on psychosocial constructs. Am J Health Behav 2008 Nov/Dec; 32(6):614-26. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Lavoie P, Rutledge J, Dawoud MA, et al. Predictors and timing of hypotension and bradycardia after carotid artery stenting. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol 2008 Nov; 29(10):1942-7. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Handley MA, Shumway M, Schillinger D. Cost-effectiveness of automated telephone self-management support with nurse care management among patients with diabetes. Ann Fam Med 2008 Nov-Dec; 6(6):512-18. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Novotny NL, Anderson MA. Prediction of early readmission in medical inpatients using the probability of repeated admission instrument. Nurs Res 2008 Nov-Dec; 57(6):406-15. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Gorelick M, Scribano PV, Stevens MW, et al. Predicting need for hospitalization in acute pediatric asthma. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2008 Nov; 24(11):735-44. Select to access the abstract in PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Page last reviewed October 2009
Internet Citation: HHS Awards $17 Million in a New National Initiative to Fight Health Care-Associated Infections: Electronic Newsletter, Issue 284. October 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


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