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Validity of selected Patient Safety Indicators: opportunities and concerns.

Kaafarani HM, Borzecki AM, Itani KM, Loveland S, Mull HJ, Hickson K, Macdonald S, Shin M, Rosen AK. Validity of selected Patient Safety Indicators: opportunities and concerns. Journal of the American College of Surgeons. 2011 Jun 1; 212(6):924-34.

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BACKGROUND: The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recently designed the Patient Safety Indicators (PSIs) to detect potential safety-related adverse events. The National Quality Forum has endorsed several of these ICD-9-CM-based indicators as quality-of-care measures. We examined the positive predictive value (PPV) of 3 surgical PSIs: postoperative pulmonary embolus and deep vein thrombosis (pPE/DVT), iatrogenic pneumothorax (iPTX), and accidental puncture and laceration (APL). STUDY DESIGN: We applied the AHRQ PSI software (v.3.1a) to fiscal year 2003 to 2007 Veterans Health Administration (VA) administrative data to identify (flag) patients suspected of having a pPE/DVT, iPTX, or APL. Two trained nurse abstractors reviewed a sample of 336 flagged medical records (112 records per PSI) using a standardized instrument. Inter-rater reliability was assessed. RESULTS: Of 2,343,088 admissions, 6,080 were flagged for pPE/DVT (0.26%), 1,402 for iPTX (0.06%), and 7,203 for APL (0.31%). For pPE/DVT, the PPV was 43% (95% CI, 34% to 53%); 21% of cases had inaccurate coding (eg, arterial not venous thrombosis); and 36% featured thromboembolism present on admission or preoperatively. For iPTX, the PPV was 73% (95% CI, 64% to 81%); 18% had inaccurate coding (eg, spontaneous pneumothorax), and 9% were pneumothoraces present on admission. For APL, the PPV was 85% (95% CI, 77% to 91%); 10% of cases had coding inaccuracies and 5% indicated injuries present on admission. However, 27% of true APLs were minor injuries requiring no surgical repair (eg, small serosal bowel tear). Inter-rater reliability was > 90% for all 3 PSIs. CONCLUSIONS: Until coding revisions are implemented, these PSIs, especially pPE/DVT, should be used primarily for screening and case-finding. Their utility for public reporting and pay-for-performance needs to be reassessed.

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