An audit of the accuracy of upper gastrointestinal diagnoses in Scottish Morbidity Record 1 data in Tayside.

S. Dornan, F. E. Murray, G. White, M. M. McGilchrist, J. M. Evans, D. G. McDevitt, T. M. MacDonald

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    INTRODUCTION. Scottish Morbidity Record (SMR1) data are coded by trained clerical staff from case records and discharge summaries. They form the basis of many strategic NHS decisions. Their accuracy for upper gastrointestinal (UGI) diagnosis is unknown and the study was undertaken to assess this accuracy in Tayside. METHOD. Patients who fulfilled the following criteria were identified using a record-linkage pharmacoepidemiological database, and their case records retrieved: over 50 years of age, had encashed at least one prescription for a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug at a Tayside pharmacy and who had SMR1 records containing one or more symptom/diagnosis codes between January 1989 and December 1991. Medically qualified staff were trained to examine case records and to code UGI diagnoses. They searched the case records for every UGI SMR1 entry for these patients from 1980-1992 and produced re-coded diagnoses (RCD) for each hospital event (admission and discharge), using all the data available in the case records. They also abstracted data on the clinical presentation, investigations and management of patients. Each event was then examined by a single medically qualified researcher who compared the original SMR1 codes with the RCDs. RESULTS. 2,101 patients had a total of 3,764 events in 1989-1991. 317 events were either day case procedures or elective surgery or the case records were not found. They were therefore excluded. Of the remainder, the SMR1 and RCD codes were judged equivalent in 1,608 events (46.6%). However, 1,005 SMR1 events (29.2%) contained a symptom code but no diagnosis code and the remaining 834 (24.2%) were judged suboptimal for other reasons. Of those with a symptom code only, 406 could not be improved upon and were transformed into RCD symptom codes only, 435 were assigned symptom and diagnostic RCDs and 164 were assigned diagnostic RCDs only. In the other 834 events, 279 had one or more diagnoses missing, 425 had one or more diagnoses inaccurate, 23 had both missing and inaccurate diagnoses and 107 were not UGI. Thus 1,433 (41.6%) of UGI SMR1 events could be more accurately coded. Examination of investigation data revealed that coding inaccuracy was not due to diagnostic procedures being carried out after admission. CONCLUSION. UGI SMR1 data were satisfactory in about half of all events. In about a quarter there were symptom codes but no satisfactory diagnosis codes, whilst in another quarter the data were inaccurate. These findings have implications for health care activities and research that use these data.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)274-279
    Number of pages6
    JournalHealth Bulletin
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 1995


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