Objective: To determine the accuracy of diagnoses and procedure codes in medical records for hip fracture patients.
Design: A validation sample of hip fracture medical records was used to compare the facesheet data with progress notes, operative reports, and discharge summaries for patients in a prospective study of functional recovery.
Setting: Eight Baltimore hospitals with the highest volume of older hip fracture patients.
Patients: Study subjects were 343 community-dwelling patients, 65 years of age and older, admitted to one of eight Baltimore hospitals between January 1990 and June 1991 with a diagnosis of hip fracture.
Main outcome measures: Facesheet diagnosis codes were compared with admitting notes, discharge summary, and/or progress notes. The abstracted surgical procedure was compared with postoperative radiographs.
Results: Excess coding of diagnoses on the hospital facesheet was evident in 12% of charts. In 17% of charts, a complication identified in the chart was not coded on the facesheet. More complications with low severity were omitted. Agreement between the abstractor's procedure review and radiograph readings for arthroplasty was 84%. In 15% of patients, the abstractor coded total arthroplasty when hemiarthroplasty was done.
Conclusions: Discrepancy between the hospital facesheet and the medical record and between the abstracted surgical procedure and radiographs was found for hip fracture patients. This may make findings from health outcomes research relying on administrative databases uncertain and reimbursement inaccurate.