Accurate assessment of injury severity is critical for decision making related to the prevention, triage, and treatment of injured patients. Presently, the standard method of controlling for variations of injury severity between groups has been based upon the Injury Severity Score (ISS) and the Trauma Score and the Trauma and Injury Severity Score (TRISS) methodology. The purpose of this study was to attempt to build upon previous work using International Classification of Diseases, ninth revision (ICD-9) coded diagnosis, and procedure information available from standard hospital discharge abstracts (UB-82 Billing format) to create a hierarchical network to provide a tool for predicting injury severity and probability of survival.
Methods: Data were obtained for this analysis from the North Carolina Medical Database. Data were available on all trauma patients admitted to hospitals in North Carolina from January 1, 1988 until June 30, 1992. The dependent variable of interest was the patient's survival after injury, coded as live or die. The independent variables used in the study included the ISS derived using the technique described by MacKenzie Abbreviated Injury Score (AIS) and body system maximum AIS scores, mortality risk ratios derived from the ICD-9-DM primary, secondary, and tertiary diagnoses, primary and secondary procedures as described in previous work, age and gender. Network generation used a commercial software package, AIM (Abtech Corp., Charlottesville, Va.), which is a numeric modeling tool that automatically "learns" knowledge from a data base of examples.
Results: In the test data set an ISS and a prediction of survival based upon the derived network were calculated for each and every patient. The relative predictive power of these two scores were compared by calculating the overall accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity and the false positive and false negative rates. The receiver operator characteristic curves demonstrate that the network is a more effective tool in predicting the outcome of trauma patients. All the measures of predictive power show that the network was the better predictor of outcome than the ISS.
Conclusions: Given the recognized limitations of the ISS, the widespread availability of the ICD-9 coded diagnoses and procedures, and the availability of many state and regional data bases that have no ISS or Trauma Score, the purpose of this study was to assess the ability of a network derived from limited but widely available hospital discharge data to predict the outcome of injured patients. The study confirms previous work showing that the ICD-9 codes were strongly associated with outcome. The study demonstrated that the network created from these data was a better predictor of outcome than the derived ISS. When the results of the network were compared with other published series, the network, created without access to physiologic information, was almost as accurate, sensitive, and specific as reported values for TRISS and A Severity Characterization of Trauma (ASCOT). Because the present study is the first of its type, further investigations are needed to validate these findings. If other studies corroborate this study, a network model based upon ICD-9 codes could become the principal method for grading injury severity. This would provide superior predictive power of injury severity with important cost savings and universal application.