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Validity of Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Patient Safety Indicators at an Academic Medical Center

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The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality developed Patient Safety Indicators (PSI) to screen for in-hospital complications and patient safety events through International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification coding. The purpose of this study was to validate 10 common surgically related PSIs at our academic medical center and investigate the causes for inaccuracies. We reviewed patient records between October 2011 and September 2012 at our urban academic medical center for 10 common surgically related PSIs. The records were reviewed for incorrectly identified PSIs and a subset was further reviewed for the contributing factors. There were 93,169 charts analyzed for PSIs and 358 PSIs were identified (3.84 per 1000 cases). The overall positive predictive value (PPV) was 83 per cent (95% confidence interval 79 to ‐86%). The lowest PPVs were associated with catheter-related bloodstream infections (67%), postoperative respiratory failure (71%), and pressure ulcers (79%). The most common contributing factors for incorrect PSIs were coding errors (30%), documentation errors (19%), and insufficient criteria for PSI in the chart (16%). We conclude that the validity of PSIs is low and could be improved by increased education for clinicians and coders. In their current form, PSIs remain suboptimal for widespread use in public reporting and pay-for-performance evaluation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Surgery, Critical Care & Emergency Surgery, VCU Medical Center, Richmond, Virginia, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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