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Health Serv Res. 2006 Apr;41(2):564-80.

Failure of ICD-9-CM codes to identify patients with comorbid chronic kidney disease in diabetes.

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  • 1Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University, Department of Medicine, Cleveland, OH 44106-4951, USA.



To determine prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in patients with diabetes, and accuracy of International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) codes to identify such patients.


Secondary data from 1999 to 2000. We linked all inpatient and outpatient administrative and clinical records of U.S. veterans with diabetes dually enrolled in Medicare and the Veterans Administration (VA) health care systems.


We used a cross-sectional, observational design to determine the sensitivity and specificity of renal-related ICD-9-CM diagnosis codes in identifying individuals with chronic kidney disease.


We estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) from serum creatinine and defined CKD as Stage 3, 4, or 5 CKD by eGFR criterion according to the Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative guidelines. Renal-related ICD-9-CM codes were grouped by algorithm.


Prevalence of CKD was 31.6 percent in the veteran sample with diabetes. Depending on the detail of the algorithm, only 20.2 to 42.4 percent of individuals with CKD received a renal-related diagnosis code in either VA or Medicare records over 1 year. Specificity of renal codes for CKD ranged from 93.2 to 99.4 percent. Patients hospitalized in VA facilities were slightly more likely to be correctly coded for CKD than patients hospitalized in facilities reimbursed by Medicare (OR 5.4 versus 4.1, p=.0330)


CKD is a common comorbidity for patients with diabetes in the VA system. Diagnosis codes in administrative records from Medicare and VA systems are insensitive, but specific markers for patients with CKD.

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