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Development of statistical methods for the surveillance and monitoring of adverse events which adjust for differing patient and surgical risks

Webster, Ronald A. (2008) Development of statistical methods for the surveillance and monitoring of adverse events which adjust for differing patient and surgical risks. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The research in this thesis has been undertaken to develop statistical tools for monitoring adverse events in hospitals that adjust for varying patient risk. The studies involved a detailed literature review of risk adjustment scores for patient mortality following cardiac surgery, comparison of institutional performance, the performance of risk adjusted CUSUM schemes for varying risk profiles of the populations being monitored, the effects of uncertainty in the estimates of expected probabilities of mortality on performance of risk adjusted CUSUM schemes, and the instability of the estimated average run lengths of risk adjusted CUSUM schemes found using the Markov chain approach. The literature review of cardiac surgical risk found that the number of risk factors in a risk model and its discriminating ability were independent, the risk factors could be classified into their "dimensions of risk", and a risk score could not be generalized to populations remote from its developmental database if accurate predictions of patients' probabilities of mortality were required. The conclusions were that an institution could use an "off the shelf" risk score, provided it was recalibrated, or it could construct a customized risk score with risk factors that provide at least one measure for each dimension of risk. The use of report cards to publish adverse outcomes as a tool for quality improvement has been criticized in the medical literature. An analysis of the report cards for cardiac surgery in New York State showed that the institutions' outcome rates appeared overdispersed compared to the model used to construct confidence intervals, and the uncertainty associated with the estimation of institutions' out come rates could be mitigated with trend analysis. A second analysis of the mortality of patients admitted to coronary care units demonstrated the use of notched box plots, fixed and random effect models, and risk adjusted CUSUM schemes as tools to identify outlying hospitals. An important finding from the literature review was that the primary reason for publication of outcomes is to ensure that health care institutions are accountable for the services they provide. A detailed review of the risk adjusted CUSUM scheme was undertaken and the use of average run lengths (ARLs) to assess the scheme, as the risk profile of the population being monitored changes, was justified. The ARLs for in-control and out-of-control processes were found to increase markedly as the average outcome rate of the patient population decreased towards zero. A modification of the risk adjusted CUSUM scheme, where the step size for in-control to out-of-control outcome probabilities were constrained to no less than 0.05, was proposed. The ARLs of this "minimum effect" CUSUM scheme were found to be stable. The previous assessment of the risk adjusted CUSUM scheme assumed that the predicted probability of a patient's mortality is known. A study of its performance, where the estimates of the expected probability of patient mortality were uncertain, showed that uncertainty at the patient level did not affect the performance of the CUSUM schemes, provided that the risk score was well calibrated. Uncertainty in the calibration of the risk model appeared to cause considerable variation in the ARL performance measures. The ARLs of the risk adjusted CUSUM schemes were approximated using simulation because the approximation method using the Markov chain property of CUSUMs, as proposed by Steiner et al. (2000), gave unstable results. The cause of the instability was the method of computing the Markov chain transition probabilities, where probability is concentrated at the midpoint of its Markov state. If probability was assumed to be uniformly distributed over each Markov state, the ARLs were stabilized, provided that the scores for the patients' risk of adverse outcomes were discrete and finite.

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ID Code: 16622
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Pettitt, Anthony, Johnson, Helen, & Morton, Anthony
Keywords: adverse outcomes, ARL, control chart, Markov chain property, medical monitoring, minimum effect CUSUM, meta-factors, patient level uncertainty, parameter estimation uncertainty, risk adjustment, risk adjusted CUSUM, report cards, risk score, risk model performance
Department: Faculty of Science
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Ronald Albert Webster
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 14:07
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2011 05:50

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