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International variation in the definition of 'main condition' in ICD-coded health data

13 Oct 2014

Hospital-based medical records are abstracted to create International Classification of Disease (ICD) coded discharge health data in many countries. The ‘main condition’ is not defined in a consistent manner internationally. Some countries employ a ‘reason for admission’ rule as the basis for the main condition, while other countries employ a ‘resource use’ rule. A few countries have recently transitioned from one of these approaches to the other. The definition of ‘main condition’ in such ICD data matters when it is used to define a disease cohort to assign diagnosis-related groups and to perform risk adjustment. We propose a method of harmonizing the international definition to enable researchers and international organizations using ICD-coded health data to aggregate or compare hospital care and outcomes across countries in a consistent manner. Inter-observer reliability of alternative harmonization approaches should be evaluated before finalizing the definition and adopting it worldwide.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in International Journal for Quality in Heath Care

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