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A Comparison of Methods to Detect Urinary Tract Infections Using Electronic Data

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Background: The use of electronic medical records to identify common health care–associated infections (HAIs), including pneumonia, surgical site infections, bloodstream infections, and urinary tract infections (UTIs), has been proposed to help perform HAI surveillance and guide infection prevention efforts. Increased attention on HAIs has led to public health reporting requirements and a focus on quality improvement activities around HAIs. Tradition al surveillance to detect HAIs and focus prevention efforts is labor intensive, and computer algorithms could be useful to screen electronic data and provide actionable information.

Methods: Seven computer-based decision rules to identify UTIs were compared in a sample of 33,834 admissions to an urban academic health center. These decision rules included combinations of laboratory data, patient clinical data, and administrative data (for example, International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Ninth Revision [ICD-9] codes).

Results: Of 33,834 hospital admissions, 3,870 UTIs were identified by at least one of the decision rules. The use of ICD-9 codes alone identified 2,614 UTIs. Laboratory-based definitions identified 2,773 infections, but when the presence of fever was included, only 1,125 UTIs were identified. The estimated sensitivity of ICD-9 codes was 55.6% (95% confidence interval [CI], 52.5%–58.5%) when compared with a culture- and symptom-based definition. Of the UTIs identified by ICD-9 codes, 167/1,125 (14.8%) also met two urine-culture decision rules.

Discussion: Use of the example of UTI identification shows how different algorithms may be appropriate, depending on the goal of case identification. Electronic surveillance methods may be beneficial for mandatory reporting, process improvement, and economic analysis.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2010

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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