1. Pfeifer, Gail M. MA, RN


AJN took a look back at some of the health care achievements (and disappointments) of 2011.


Article Content

Health Disparities



* The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published a plan to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities through integrated approaches and evidence-based practices.





* Hospital readmission rates among black patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were 30% higher than they were among groups with the lowest rates.



Sources: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities (; Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Readmissions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, 2008. Statistical Brief 121.


Heart Failure



* Risk-adjusted rates of U.S. heart failure hospitalizations decreased 30% from 1998 to 2008, according to a report in JAMA.





* In the same study, the authors reported that declines in hospitalization were less pronounced in black men, and results varied widely from state to state.



Source: Chen J, et al. JAMA 2011;306(15):1669 78.





* Breast cancer incidence decreased among white, Latino, and American Indian-Alaskan Native women.





* A year into the cholera epidemic in Haiti, the percentage of people with access to clean drinking water in Port-au-Prince settlement camps had decreased from 48% to 7%.



Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Breast Cancer Trends. (; Chaturvedi AK, et al. J Clin Oncol 2011;29(32):4294-301.





* More people with Medicare are taking advantage of preventive health care benefits, such as annual wellness visits and cardiovascular screening.


* Partners in Health is planning a comprehensive cholera-prevention program for this month that should vaccinate 100,000 Haitians against the disease.





* The continuing economic crisis threatens proposed funding for preventive and public health initiatives, which could make these services disappear.


* Human papillomavirus-related oropharyngeal cancer will likely constitute most head and neck cancers in the United States in the next 20 years, according to a report in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.



Sources: Rural Assistance Center. More People Using Free Preventive Benefits Provided by Affordable Care Act (; Kuehn BM. JAMA 2011;306(18):1965-6; Partners in Health. Cholera One Year Later.


Hazardous Medical Waste



* Tools for tackling and monitoring hazardous medical waste, including waste in low-income countries, are now available on the World Health Organization Web site at





* About 20% of the waste generated by health care activities is toxic, infectious, or radioactive.



Source: World Health Organization. Healthcare Waste and Its Safe Management; World Health Organization. Waste from Health Care Activities. Fact sheet No. 253 (