Background: Our goal was to compare the demographics and discharge diagnoses between civilian and military health care systems.
Methods: One year (1997) of data from the Retrospective Case Mix Adjustment System from the Military Health Services System were compared with the most recent (1994) civilian National Hospital Discharge Survey data.
Results: Military and civilian inpatient age (52.5 and 52.9 years), gender (54% and 59% female), and ethnic distributions (military: 71% white, 16% African American, 3% Asian American, 10% other; civilian: 65% white, 12% African American, 2.6% Asian American, 1.2% Native American, 18% unclassified) were similar. There were similar rank orderings of diagnosis-related groupings (Spearman's rank correlation = 0.72) and procedures performed during hospitalization (Spearman's rho = 0.74), although the military inpatients yielded a higher proportion associated with pregnancy and strenuous activity (traumatic joint disorders and hernias) than their civilian counterparts.
Conclusion: The practice content of military and civilian inpatients appear to be more similar than different.