HCUP e-News: the electronic newsletter of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project

September 2010
Issue #24


News and Announcements: Information on happenings, including newly released databases and products
Recent Publications: A sample of materials, including peer-reviewed journal articles, utilizing HCUP data
Users´ Tech Tip: Answers to commonly asked questions when working with HCUP data
HCUP Calendar: Upcoming conferences or meetings at which HCUP will be represented


Excellence in Research: HCUP’s Outstanding Achievement in Healthcare Research Awards

AHRQ thanks all of the HCUP researchers who applied this summer for the HCUP Outstanding Achievement in Healthcare Research Awards. In honor of HCUP’s 20th year of data, the recognition honors researchers who have used HCUP data, software tools, or products to address and impact healthcare research and policy issues.

The Review Committee received a very impressive pool of applicants and commends each user for their exceptional work utilizing the HCUP databases and tools. It is both exciting and humbling for AHRQ’s staff to see the array of quality work being produced with HCUP’s databases and products.

The chosen recipients will be announced on Tuesday, September 28 during the AHRQ 2010 Annual Conference at the "Lunch and Learn Session – HCUP: Celebrating 20 Years of Powerful Data." Additional information regarding the award recipients and their work will be available on the HCUP-US Website following the recognition session.

Just Released! New HCUP Online Tutorial Series

AHRQ has just released two new modules in the HCUP Online Tutorial Series. These online trainings are designed to provide data users with information about HCUP data and tools, as well as training on technical methods for conducting research with HCUP datasets.

The Producing National HCUP Estimates tutorial is designed to help users understand how the three nationwide databases – the NIS, NEDS, and KID – can be used to produce national and regional estimates.

The Load and Check HCUP Data tutorial provides instructions on how to unzip (decompress) HCUP data, save it on your computer, and load the data into a standard statistical software package. This tutorial also describes how to verify that the data have loaded correctly.

The HCUP Online Tutorial Series is available on the HCUP-US Website. For more information, please contact HCUP User Support at hcup@ahrq.gov.

Attend HCUP Sessions at AHRQ's 2010 Annual Conference

AHRQ's 2010 Annual Conference, Changing Care, Changing Lives: Delivering on Quality for All Americans, will bring together both the users and producers of the information needed to improve health and healthcare. It will be held September 27-29 at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Convention Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

For those who are registered for the conference, please attend the HCUP sessions offered.

Coming Soon: HCUP Facts and Figures, Updated for 2008

AHRQ plans to release a new statistical report, HCUP Facts and Figures: Statistics on Hospital-Based Care in the United States, 2008 in early October. The report is an update and expansion of the HCUP Facts and Figures, 2007 report. The new report uses the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) database to present information about hospital care in 2008, as well as trends in care from 1993 to 2008.

The featured topic of this year’s report is an examination of trends in inpatient and emergency department care for mental health and substance abuse conditions. This work has been funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Once released, the 2008 HCUP Facts and Figures report can be found in the Reports section of the HCUP-US Website. A description of the NIS is available on the HCUP-US Website.

The 2008 Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) Due Out in October

The 2008 Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) will be available for purchase from the HCUP Central Distributor and on HCUPnet in late October. The NEDS is the largest all-payer emergency department (ED) database in the United States and can be used to create national estimates of ED visits, both treat-and-release visits and those resulting in a hospital admission. The NEDS contains clinical and non-clinical information on patients, regardless of payer—including those covered by Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, and the uninsured.

Researchers and policymakers can use the NEDS for a variety of purposes, including developing performance and accountability measures, researching emergency and trauma care, gaining a better understanding of rural emergency care, and investigating the challenges of emergency mental health and substance abuse conditions.

Individuals on the HCUP Mailing List will receive an e-mail when the 2008 NEDS becomes available. The NEDS Application Kit is available on the HCUP-US’ Central Distributor page.

For more information on obtaining HCUP databases, please contact the HCUP Central Distributor or HCUP User Support at hcup@ahrq.gov.

More 2009 State Databases Released

HCUP’s 2009 State-level databases, including the State Inpatient Databases (SID), State Ambulatory Surgery Databases (SASD), and State Emergency Department Databases (SEDD), are released on a monthly basis, as they are completed. Researchers and policymakers can use these State-specific databases to investigate questions unique to one State; compare data from two or more States; conduct market area research or small area variation analyses; and identify State–specific trends in utilization, access, quality, charges, and outcomes.

The following 2009 HCUP State databases are currently available:

Additional 2009 State databases will be released this year and into 2011. Available databases are listed on the HCUP Database and Product Release Calendar and in the SID/SASD/SEDD Application Kit. These databases, as well as the national HCUP databases, are available for purchase through the HCUP Central Distributor. In addition, select State files can be accessed via HCUPnet.

New Material Available on MONAHRQ Website and Two MONAHRQ Websites Posted

MONAHRQ (My Own Network – Powered by AHRQ) has posted new educational items on its Website to assist users in creating their own data-driven websites:

In addition, the first two MONAHRQ-generated Websites have been posted:
Check out the sites to see the new public reporting capabilities for both organizations.

For more information on MONAHRQ, please contact MONAHRQ User Support at MONAHRQ@ahrq.gov, or visit the MONAHRQ Website.

New HCUP Statistical Briefs Available on the HCUP-US Website

HCUP Statistical Briefs are short, focused reports on topics related to specific conditions, procedures, or populations. Statistical Briefs are useful to a wide variety of audiences, including policy analysts, decision makers, media personnel, and others in need of summary facts and figures on current healthcare issues.

Recently-released Statistical Briefs include:

These and other HCUP Statistical Briefs can be found on the HCUP-US Website.

September Webinar Training Series and HCUP Data Users’ Workshop a Success

September has been a month full of HCUP training sessions. First, AHRQ hosted two 1-hour Webinars on HCUP databases, products, and tools. The September 1 Webinar, Overview of the HCUP Databases, introduced health services and policy researchers to the HCUP databases and related resources. The September 7 Webinar, Overview of the HCUP Products and Tools, provided information on HCUP tools, supplemental files and publications, and demonstrated HCUPnet, our free online data query system.

On September 15, AHRQ sponsored a one-day, intermediate-level HCUP workshop at its headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. This workshop assisted health services researchers and analysts in learning how to use or improve their use of HCUP databases and products. It was recommended that workshop attendees participate in the Webinars or have prior experience using the HCUP databases.

Based on the success of these events, HCUP anticipates holding additional Webinars and in-person workshops in the future. For information on all HCUP events check the HCUP Calendar.

Keeping up with HCUP: Recent Events

Since the end of June, HCUP staff has participated in a number of events, including:

A complete list of HCUP events is available on the HCUP Calendar. We enjoy meeting HCUP users at our trainings, presentations, and exhibit booths. If you are in attendance, please stop by and say hello!


Iqbal S, Clower JH, Boehmer TK, Yip FY, Garbe P. Carbon monoxide-related hospitalizations in the U.S.: Evaluation of a web-based query system for public health surveillance. Public Health Rep. 2010 May-Jun;125(3):423-32.

This analysis used the 1993-2005 Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) and HCUPnet to generate national estimates of carbon monoxide related hospitalizations. The research found that in 2005, there were 24,891 carbon monoxide related hospitalizations nationwide, with the highest hospitalization rates occurring among males ages 85 and older and Midwestern residents. The research also found that carbon monoxide related hospitalization rates declined from 1992 through 2000, and plateaued from 2001 through 2005. The article abstract is available via Pubmed.

Mark TL, Vandivort-Warren R, Owens PL, Buck JA, Levit KR, Coffey RM, Stocks C. Psychiatric discharges in community hospitals with and without psychiatric units: how many and for whom? PsychiatrServ. 2010 Jun;61(6):562-8.

This study used the 2003 State Inpatient Databases (SID) from 12 states to analyze the characteristics of patients with psychiatric disorders treated in medical-surgical beds compared to patients treated in psychiatric units in community hospitals. The research found that 6.8 percent of discharges were from medical-surgical beds. The research also indicated that almost 40 percent of patients from the medical-surgical beds had a diagnosis of schizophrenia, episodic mood disorder, or depression; about two-thirds were admitted from emergency rooms; and about one-fifth were transferred to another facility. The article abstract is available via Pubmed.

To read additional recently-published articles featuring HCUP data, please visit the Research Spotlights page on the HCUP-US Website.



The HCUP nationwide databases’ core files contain unweighted discharges, taken from a 20 percent sample of hospitals. For example, the 2008 NIS core file contains about 8 million unweighted discharge records, but there are approximately 39.9 million discharges from U.S. community hospitals. For most research, analysts will be interested in creating national or regional estimates of care in hospitals.

To obtain national estimates, a weight must be applied to the unweighted observations. HCUP’s nationwide databases include a weighting element called DISCWT to help create national estimates. This variable is a discharge-level weight that can be used to examine characteristics of hospital stays and patients at the national level.

To produce national estimates, use DISCWT to weight discharges in the Core file to the discharges from all community hospitals located in the U.S.

Over time, there have been some variations in the NIS discharge weights:

For more information on all of HCUP’s data elements, please visit the Databases page on the HCUP-US Website and select the link "Database Documentation" under the database of interest.

For additional HCUP questions, please contact User Support at hcup@ahrq.gov.


September 27-29, 2010: AHRQ 2010 Annual Conference, Bethesda, MD

AHRQ’s 2010 Annual Conference, Changing Care, Changing Lives: Delivering on Quality for All Americans, will bring together both the users and producers of the information needed to improve health and healthcare. Additional conference information is available on the AHRQ 2010 Annual Conference website. Session information is located on the Conference's Agenda page. Exit Disclaimer

September 28, 2010: State of the Science Congress on Nursing Research, Washington, DC

HCUP staff will provide an in-depth 90-minute introduction to the HCUP databases, tools, and learning resources. Attendees will discuss research ideas and how they could be investigated using HCUP products. Additional conference information is available on the http://www.nursingscience.org/. Exit Disclaimer

October 13-14, 2010: National Association of Health Data Organizations (NAHDO) Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, UT

HCUP will sponsor an exhibit booth during NAHDO's Annual Conference at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah. Representatives will be available to provide information and answer questions. Additional conference information is available on the NAHDO website Exit Disclaimer

November 6-10, 2010: American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting and Exposition, Denver, CO

AHRQ staff will present a poster entitled "Trends in Uninsured Hospital Stays, 1998-2007"on November 8 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado. A representative will be available at 12:30 P.M. to answer questions. HCUP will also staff an exhibit booth throughout the conference. Additional conference information is available on the APHA website. Exit Disclaimer

For a complete list of HCUP presentations and events, visit the HCUP Events Calendar, located on the HCUP-US Website.


This publication and previous editions of HCUP e-News are available online at the HCUP-US Website.

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For more information, or if you have any questions regarding HCUP e-News, please contact P. Hannah Davis, M.S., at hannah.davis@ahrq.hhs.gov