News in Brief: Week of Dec. 16-20

December 18, 2013 04:04 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

[News in Brief]

AHRQ Study: 16 Percent of Children Hospitalized for Asthma Readmitted Within One Year

Roughly one in six children hospitalized with asthma symptoms was rehospitalized for the same condition within the following 12 months, according to a study in the Nov. 14 issue of the Journal of Pediatrics( The study, which was conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, examined more than 44,000 hospitalizations at 42 children's hospitals during a three-year period.

Significant variations in rehospitalization rates were found at the 7-, 15-, 30-, 60-, 180-, and 365-day marks based on patient, physician and facility characteristics. For example, racial or ethnic and economic disparities were evident at the 60-day mark, researchers said.

Children also were more likely to be readmitted at each time interval if they were 12-18 years old, had a complex chronic condition, had an initial hospital stay longer than one day, had been admitted for asthma in the prior year or were covered by public insurance.

Privacy Policy Spells Out How AAFP Uses Member Information

The AAFP has updated its privacy policy to better reflect the current state of technology and changes in privacy policy best practices.

According to the Academy, "The AAFP is committed to protecting the privacy of its members and customers." The policy spells out how the AAFP collects and uses information from its websites and via voluntary interactions with the AAFP.

Majority of Teens Say Marijuana Is Not Harmful

Sixty percent of high school seniors don't view regular marijuana use as harmful, according to NIH's 2013 Monitoring the Future survey(, which measured drug use and attitudes among the nation's eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders. Furthermore, 6.5 percent of seniors said they smoked marijuana daily, up from 2.4 percent in 1993.

Nora Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in a news release that it's important to remember that levels of tetrahydrocannabinol -- the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana -- have increased from 3.75 percent in 1995 to 15 percent.

"Daily use today can have stronger effects on a developing teen brain than it did 10 or 20 years ago,” she said

Nearly 23 percent of seniors said they smoked marijuana in the month before the survey, and more than 36 percent said they had smoked it during the past year. Thirty percent of 10th graders and 12 percent of eighth graders said they used marijuana in the past year.

Cigarettes smoking and alcohol use both declined. For the first time, the percentage of students in all three grades combined who said they smoked in the past month was below 10 percent. Fewer than 40 percent of seniors reported drinking alcohol in the past month, down from a peak of 52.7 percent in 1997.

PCORI Approves $191 Million to Fund Research, Build Data Networks

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has approved $191 million in funding to support patient-centered comparative effectiveness research.

According to a Dec. 17 press release(, $97.3 million in awards will fund 53 studies aimed at answering questions that patients and their caregivers most often ask. Of those, eight awards will specifically fund studies that look at multipronged approaches to reduce persistent disparities in uncontrolled asthma among blacks and Hispanics.

An additional $93.5 million will help build and expand a series of individual research data networks that eventually will form a new national patient-centered clinical research network. Between 2012 and 2013, PCORI has awarded more than $464 million to fund 279 research projects nationwide on patient-centered outcomes.

More Medicare Beneficiaries Using Preventive Services

CMS has released data that show more than 25 million consumers with traditional Medicare tapped into at least one preventive service -- and paid no out-of-pocket expenses -- during the first 11 months of 2013.

According to a Dec. 17 press release(, during the same time span, more than 3.5 million beneficiaries underwent an annual wellness visit as part of their original Medicare coverage,

By comparison, CMS reports that 2.8 million took advantage of the annual wellness visit during the same 11-month period in 2012. Access to preventive care has been a highly-publicized component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

A state-by-state list( that details beneficiaries' use of preventive services is available online.