Impact of diagnosis-timing indicators on measures of safety, comorbidity, and case mix groupings from administrative data sources

James M. Naessens, Claudia R. Campbell, Bjorn Berg, Arthur R. Williams, Richard Culbertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Context: Many attempts to identify hospital complications rely on secondary diagnoses from billing data. To be meaningful, diagnosis codes must distinguish between diagnoses after admission and those existing before admission. Objective: To assess the influence of diagnoses at admission on patient safety, comorbidity, severity measures, and case mix groupings for Medicare reimbursement. Design: Cross-sectional association of various diagnosis-based clinical and performance measures with and without diagnosis present on admission. Setting: Hospital discharges from Mayo Clinic Rochester hospitals in 2005 (N = 60,599). Patients: All hospital inpatients including surgical, medical, pediatric, maternity, psychiatric, and rehabilitation patients. About 33% of patients traveled more than 120 miles for care. Main Outcome Measures: Hospital patient safety indicators, comorbidity, severity, and case mix measures with and without diagnoses present at admission. Results: Over 90% of all diagnoses were present at admission whereas 27.1% of all inpatients had a secondary diagnosis coded in-hospital. About one-third of discharges with a safety indicator were flagged because of a diagnosis already present at admission, more likely among referral patients. In contrast, 87% of postoperative hemorrhage, 22% of postoperative hip fractures, and 54% of foreign bodies left in wounds were coded as in-hospital conditions. Severity changes during hospitalization were observed, in less than 8% of discharges. Slightly over 3% of discharges were assigned to higher weight diagnosis-related groups based on an in-hospital complication. Conclusions: In general, many patient safety indicators do not reliably identify adverse hospital events, especially when applied to academic referral centers. Except as noted, conditions recorded after admission have minimal impact on comorbidity and severity measures or on Medicare reimbursement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)781-788
Number of pages8
JournalMedical Care
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2007


  • Administrative data
  • Comorbidity
  • Hospital quality
  • Quality measurement
  • Severity of illness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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