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Wednesday, April 09, 2008 12:30 PM

Newscast: Lead Story - Violence os a Growing Cause of Hospitalizations in the U.S.

(opening music)

Rand: This is Healthcare 411 for the week of April 9, 2008.

Debra: Healthcare 411 is produced by AHRQ, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Debra: I’m Debra James.

Rand: And I’m Rand Gardner.

Debra: Coming up:

Rand: A new report shows violence is a growing cause for hospitalizations in the U.S.

Debra: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issues a new recommendation regarding screening for COPD.

Rand: And AHRQ unveils a new outreach campaign specifically geared towards Hispanics. It’s all coming up.


[Begin PSA: If You’re Pregnant and You Smoke]

(baby crying)

Narrator: If you’re pregnant and you smoke, you need to know that your risk of your baby being born too small is one and a half to three and a half times greater. By quitting now, your baby has a better chance to be born at a normal weight and to have healthy lungs. But it’s also important for you to stay smoke free after your baby’s born. For free materials on quitting or to speak to a quit coach, call the National Quitline at 1-800 QUIT NOW. A message from the U.S. Public Health Service.

[End PSA]


Rand: Now the numbers.


Rand: Violence is a growing reason why many Americans need to be hospitalized every year, according to a recent AHRQ report. In 2005, U.S. hospitals treated more than 300,000 people for assault, rape, abuse, and other violence-related traumas. Some two-thirds of these hospitalizations were for attempted suicide. Compared to 2002 statistics, these types of injuries are on the rise. In fact, the United States Surgeon General has identified violence reduction as a national public health priority. In many cases, medical care costs for violence-related hospital admissions are passed on to hospitals and taxpayers. In 2005, treatment for violence-related injuries cost $2.3 billion. And roughly 23 percent of hospitalizations involved uninsured patients. Twenty-seven percent were for Medicaid enrollees.

Debra: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD is a disease in which the airways in the lungs are damaged, making it hard to breathe. People who have COPD often have symptoms, such as a cough with mucus, shortness of breath when exercising, wheezing, and sometimes a feeling of tightness in the chest. Using spirometry testing in patients with symptoms may diagnose COPD. But what if you don’t have any symptoms? Should you be screened for COPD, just in case? A new recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advises that this screening isn’t for everyone. Task Force member Dr. Diana Petitti explains.

Dr. Petitti: After careful review of the evidence, the Task Force concluded that adults without symptoms of COPD should not be screened for the disease using spirometry, which is the most common way to screen. We found that the benefits of screening people without symptoms are very small. In people who are diagnosed with COPD using screening spirometry, the Task Force also found evidence that making this diagnosis did not reduce the number of patients who quit smoking nor could we find evidence that it increased the number of people who get an annual flu shot.

Debra: What can people with COPD do to improve their condition?

Dr. Petitti: Most people with COPD are smokers or were smokers in the past. Quitting smoking is the single most important thing a person can do to keep from getting COPD. People who’ve already quit smoking should continue to avoid cigarettes--completely and forever. Even in people who already have symptoms of COPD or a diagnosis of COPD, quitting smoking completely and forever slows the progression of the disease and improves the symptoms.

Debra: So if the Task Force recommends against screening for COPD in adults without symptoms, what does it recommend clinicians do as a preventive service for their patients?

Dr. Petitti: The Task Force strongly encourages clinicians to focus on screening all adults for tobacco use and helping individuals who smoke to choose and find a therapy that will allow them to quit.

Debra: Dr. Petitti, thanks for the advice.

Dr. Petitti: You’re welcome.

Debra: Up next, AHRQ Director Dr. Carolyn Clancy talks about how a new outreach campaign especially for Hispanics.


Rand: A new Spanish-language public service advertising campaign from AHRQ and the Ad Council entitled Superheroes encourages Hispanics to be heroes for their families by getting the preventive health care they need. In this segment on Navigating the Healthcare System, AHRQ Director Dr. Carolyn Clancy is with us to talk about this campaign. Welcome, Dr. Clancy.

Dr. Clancy: Thank you.

Rand: Why does your new health campaign focus on reaching out to Hispanics?

Dr. Clancy: We see substantial room for improvement with Hispanics and health care, especially in the area of preventive care. Every year, AHRQ submits to the Congress an annual report on healthcare disparities, and our reports tell us that one-third of U.S. Hispanics are uninsured. But in addition, studies find that Hispanics often lag behind the general population in access to preventive care, even when they are insured. For example, Hispanics are 38 percent less likely than non-Hispanics to have visited the doctor within the past year. In addition, more than a quarter of Hispanic adults have never had their cholesterol checked, two-thirds of Hispanics over 50 have never had a colonoscopy, and nearly 54 percent of Hispanic women over 40 have not had a mammogram in the past year.

Rand: How will this campaign encourage Hispanics to take better care of themselves?

Dr. Clancy: This campaign features Spanish-language public service advertisements airing on radio and TV, and the advertisements show everyday mothers and fathers whose kids see them as superheroes. The messages in the ads encourage Hispanic adults to be more involved in their health care, especially preventive care.

Rand: Dr Clancy, how does this campaign encourage people to get healthy and stay healthy?

Dr. Clancy: In addition to the ad, we also have a Web site, which is ahrq.gov/superheroes that provides tips on staying healthy, talking with your doctor and getting the preventive care you need. We also include recommendations on what preventive tests you need, as recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. In addition, there’s even a quiz and a glossary of medical terms, as well as links to other resources that provide useful health information.

Narrator: And finally, how do you see this message making a difference in Hispanic communities?

Dr. Clancy: I believe it will have a significant effect on Hispanic health by encouraging people to visit their doctors more regularly to get preventive care. But it’s much more than just an ad campaign. We’re asking leading Hispanic advocacy groups, employers, insurers and others to promote this message to the community. In fact, we’ve invited Hispanic leaders across the country to join us in relaying this critical message to Hispanics of all ages. Taking care of your own health, including visiting the doctor even when you’re feeling healthy to get preventive care, is one way to show how much you care about your family. And that’s being a superhero to the ones you love.

Rand: Thanks for joining us, Dr. Clancy.

Dr. Clancy: My pleasure.

Rand: To view the new Superheroes ads or access AHRQ’s free men’s and women’s health checklists, go online to ahrq.gov/superheroes.


Rand: That’s it for this week. For more information on these and other health-related stories and topics go to www.ahrq.gov

Debra: Healthcare 411 is produced by AHRQ, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For Rand Gardner, I’m Debra James. Please join us for the next edition of Healthcare 411.

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