Development and Validation of the Pediatric Medical Complexity Algorithm (PMCA) Version 3.0

Acad Pediatr. 2018 Jul;18(5):577-580. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2018.02.010. Epub 2018 Feb 26.


Objective: To modify the Pediatric Medical Complexity Algorithm (PMCA) to include both International Classification of Diseases, Ninth and Tenth Revisions, Clinical Modification (ICD-9/10-CM) codes for classifying children with chronic disease (CD) by level of medical complexity and to assess the sensitivity and specificity of the new PMCA version 3.0 for correctly identifying level of medical complexity.

Methods: To create version 3.0, PMCA version 2.0 was modified to include ICD-10-CM codes. We applied PMCA version 3.0 to Seattle Children's Hospital data for children with ≥1 emergency department (ED), day surgery, and/or inpatient encounter from January 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017. Starting with the encounter date, up to 3 years of retrospective discharge data were used to classify children as having complex chronic disease (C-CD), noncomplex chronic disease (NC-CD), and no CD. We then selected a random sample of 300 children (100 per CD group). Blinded medical record review was conducted to ascertain the levels of medical complexity for these 300 children. The sensitivity and specificity of PMCA version 3.0 was assessed.

Results: PMCA version 3.0 identified children with C-CD with 86% sensitivity and 86% specificity, children with NC-CD with 65% sensitivity and 84% specificity, and children without CD with 77% sensitivity and 93% specificity.

Conclusions: PMCA version 3.0 is an updated publicly available algorithm that identifies children with C-CD, who have accessed tertiary hospital emergency department, day surgery, or inpatient care, with very good sensitivity and specificity when applied to hospital discharge data and with performance to earlier versions of PMCA.

Keywords: administrative data; claims data; medical complexity; sensitivity; specificity; stratification; validation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Algorithms*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • International Classification of Diseases*
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Methacrylates / adverse effects
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Washington
  • Young Adult


  • Methacrylates

Supplementary concepts

  • 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate sensitization