Consolidating Emergency Department-specific Data to Enable Linkage with Large Administrative Datasets

West J Emerg Med. 2020 Oct 27;21(6):141-145. doi: 10.5811/westjem.2020.8.48305.


Introduction: The American Hospital Association (AHA) has hospital-level data, while the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has patient-level data. Merging these with other distinct databases would permit analyses of hospital-based specialties, units, or departments, and patient outcomes. One distinct database is the National Emergency Department Inventory (NEDI), which contains information about all EDs in the United States. However, a challenge with merging these databases is that NEDI lists all US EDs individually, while the AHA and CMS group some EDs by hospital network. Consolidating data for this merge may be preferential to excluding grouped EDs. Our objectives were to consolidate ED data to enable linkage with administrative datasets and to determine the effect of excluding grouped EDs on ED-level summary results.

Methods: Using the 2014 NEDI-USA database, we surveyed all New England EDs. We individually matched NEDI EDs with corresponding EDs in the AHA and CMS. A "group match" was assigned when more than one NEDI ED was matched to a single AHA or CMS facility identification number. Within each group, we consolidated individual ED data to create a single observation based on sums or weighted averages of responses as appropriate.

Results: Of the 195 EDs in New England, 169 (87%) completed the NEDI survey. Among these, 130 (77%) EDs were individually listed in AHA and CMS, while 39 were part of groups consisting of 2-3 EDs but represented by one facility ID. Compared to the individually listed EDs, the 39 EDs included in a "group match" had a larger number of annual visits and beds, were more likely to be freestanding, and were less likely to be rural (all P<0.05). Two grouped EDs were excluded because the listed ED did not respond to the NEDI survey; the remaining 37 EDs were consolidated into 19 observations. Thus, the consolidated dataset contained 149 observations representing 171 EDs; this consolidated dataset yielded summary results that were similar to those of the 169 responding EDs.

Conclusion: Excluding grouped EDs would have resulted in a non-representative dataset. The original vs consolidated NEDI datasets yielded similar results and enabled linkage with large administrative datasets. This approach presents a novel opportunity to use characteristics of hospital-based specialties, units, and departments in studies of patient-level outcomes, to advance health services research.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital* / organization & administration
  • Emergency Service, Hospital* / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Information Management* / methods
  • Health Information Management* / organization & administration
  • Hospitals, Rural* / organization & administration
  • Hospitals, Rural* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Informatics
  • Medicare
  • New England / epidemiology
  • Semantic Web / statistics & numerical data
  • United States