Most Hospitals and Physicians Fail To Screen for Social Factors That May Impact Patient Health

Issue 683
AHRQ News Now is a weekly newsletter that highlights agency research and program activities.
October 8, 2019

AHRQ Stats: Hospital Readmissions for Sickle Cell Disease

One-third of hospital stays for sickle cell disease in 2016 resulted in a readmission within 30 days, compared with 13 percent of hospital stays unrelated to sickle cell disease. (Source: AHRQ, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Statistical Brief #251, Characteristics of Inpatient Hospital Stays Involving Sickle Cell Disease, 2000–2016.)

Today's Headlines:

Most Hospitals and Physicians Fail To Screen for Social Factors That May Impact Patient Health

Most hospitals and physician practices don’t screen patients for social determinants of health such as food insecurity, housing instability, utility and transportation needs and interpersonal violence, according to an AHRQ-funded study in JAMA Network Open. Surveys administered from June 2017 to August 2018 to 2,190 physician practices and 739 hospitals found that about 16 percent of practices and 24 percent of hospitals reported screening for all five factors, while 8 percent of hospitals and 33 percent of practices screened for none. The most commonly screened-for factor was interpersonal violence, occurring at 75 percent of hospitals and 56 percent of practices. Almost 50 percent of academic hospitals reported screening, compared with 23 percent of hospitals overall. Facilities that serve economically disadvantaged patients were more likely to screen. Access the abstract

Most Common Ambulatory Surgeries Highlighted by New AHRQ Database

A new AHRQ analysis shows that lens and cataract procedures were the most common types of major ambulatory surgeries in 2016, accounting for 10 percent of all major ambulatory surgeries. The Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project statistical brief identifies the 20 most common major ambulatory surgeries performed in hospital-owned facilities. Drawing upon data from AHRQ’s new Nationwide Ambulatory Surgery Sample (NASS), the largest all-payer ambulatory surgery database in the United States, the analysis shows the rate of ambulatory surgeries was higher for women (3,319 per 100,000 people) compared with men (2,626 per 100,000). It also showed that 47 percent of major ambulatory surgeries were billed to private insurance while 31 percent were billed to Medicare. Access the brief and more information about the NASS database. 

Highlights From AHRQ’s Patient Safety Network

AHRQ’s Patient Safety Network (PSNet) highlights journal articles, books and tools related to patient safety. Articles featured this week include:

Review additional new publications in PSNet’s current issue or access recent cases and commentaries in AHRQ’s WebM&M (Morbidity and Mortality Rounds on the Web). 

Report Highlights AHRQ Research Aimed at Improving Care Quality and Safety Through Health Information Technology

Key actionable findings from AHRQ-supported grants are included in the agency's newly released Health Information Technology Research 2018 Year in Review. The annual report describes the results of AHRQ-funded investigations aimed at improving the quality and safety of healthcare via health information technology. AHRQ grantees featured in the report tackled topics ranging from decreasing tobacco-related healthcare costs using interactive voice response technology to increasing patient engagement in reporting and monitoring asthma symptoms with a mobile app. To learn more about AHRQ’s investments in health information technology research, visit or download the report

Urinary Antigen Testing Can Help Improve Antibiotic Stewardship

Only 15.5 percent of adult patients with pneumonia received pneumococcal urinary antigen testing (UAT), a useful tool that, when it yields positive findings, can help physicians reduce the time that patients in stable condition need to take broad-spectrum antibiotics, according to an AHRQ study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases. The researchers used data from a national discharge hospital database over a five-year period, from 2010 to 2015. Although UAT is fast, accurate and inexpensive, its utilization remains low. The authors suggest that increased use of UAT can improve antibiotic stewardship efforts. Access the abstract

New Research and Evidence From AHRQ

AHRQ in the Professional Literature

Patient outcomes after the introduction of statewide ICU nurse staffing regulations. Law AC, Stevens JP, Hohmann S, et al. Crit Care Med 2018 Oct;46(10):1563-9. Access the abstract on PubMed®.

Compliance with the national SEP-1 quality measure and association with sepsis outcomes: a multicenter retrospective cohort study. Rhee C, Filbin MR, Massaro AF, et al. Crit Care Med 2018 Oct;46(10):1585-91. Access the abstract on PubMed®.

Difference in uninsurance rates between full- and part-time workers declined in 2014. Berdahl TA, Moriya AS. Health Aff (Millwood) 2018 Oct;37(10):1669-72. Access the abstract on PubMed®.

Impact of patient safety indicators on readmission after abdominal aortic surgery. Bath J, Dombrovskiy VY, Vogel TR. J Vasc Nurs 2018 Dec;36(4):189-95. Epub 2018 Oct 2. Access the abstract on PubMed®.

A rigorous approach to large-scale elicitation and analysis of patient narratives. Schlesinger M, Grob R, Shaller D, et al. Med Care Res Rev 2018 Oct 6:1077558718803859. [Epub ahead of print.] Access the abstract on PubMed®.

Cognitive impairment, anesthesia, and critical illness: learning from the past to gain perspective on the future. Barbash IJ. Mayo Clin Proc 2018 Nov;93(11):1537-9. Epub 2018 Oct 9. Access the abstract on PubMed®.

Culturing practices and the care of the urinary catheter in reducing NHSN-defined catheter-associated urinary tract infections: the tale of two teaching hospitals. Bardossy AC, Williams T, Jones K, et al. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2018 Dec;39(12):1494-6. Epub 2018 Oct 10. Access the abstract on PubMed®.

The influence of a place-based foundation and a public university in growing a rural health workforce. Reid R, Rising E, Kaufman A, et al. J Community Health 2019 Apr;44(2):292-6. Access the abstract on PubMed®.

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Page last reviewed October 2019
Page originally created October 2019
Internet Citation: Most Hospitals and Physicians Fail To Screen for Social Factors That May Impact Patient Health. Content last reviewed October 2019. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
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