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Med Care. 2009 Dec;47(12):1237-43. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e3181b58940.

How valid is the ICD-9-CM based AHRQ patient safety indicator for postoperative venous thromboembolism?

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  • 1Division of General Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95817, USA.



Hospital administrative data are being used to identify patients with postoperative venous thromboembolism (VTE), either pulmonary embolism (PE) or deep-vein thrombosis (DVT). However, few studies have evaluated the accuracy of these ICD-9-CM codes across multiple hospitals.


The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Patient Safety Indicator (PSI)-12 was used to identify cases with postoperative VTE in 80 hospitals that volunteered for either an AHRQ or University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) validation project. Trained abstractors using a standardized tool and guidelines retrospectively verified all coded VTE events.


In the combined samples, the positive predictive value of the set of prespecified VTE codes for any acute VTE at any time during the hospitalization was 451 of 573 = 79% (95% CI: 75%-82%). However, the positive predictive value for acute lower extremity DVT or PE diagnosed after an operation was 209 of 452 = 44% (95% CI: 37%-51%) in the UHC sample and 58 of 121 = 48% (95% CI: 42-67%) in the AHRQ sample. Fourteen percent of all cases had an acute upper extremity DVT, 6% had superficial vein thrombosis and 21% had no acute VTE, however, 61% of the latter had a documented prior/chronic VTE. In the UHC cohort, the sensitivity for any acute VTE was 95.5% (95% CI: 86.4%-100%); the specificity was 99.5% (95% CI: 99.4%-99.7%).


Current PSI 12 criteria do not accurately identify patients with acute postoperative lower extremity DVT or PE. Modification of the ICD-9-CM codes and implementation of "present on admission" flags should improve the predictive value for clinically important VTE events.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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