The quality of cause-of-injury data: Where hospital records fall down

McKenzie, Kirsten, Harding, Leith F., Walker, Sue M., Harrison, James E., Enraght-Moony, Emma L., & Waller, Garry S. (2006) The quality of cause-of-injury data: Where hospital records fall down. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 30(6), pp. 509-513.


Objectives: This research identifies the level of specificity of cause-of-injury morbidity data in Australia. The research explores reasons for poor-quality data across different causes-of-injury areas, including a lack of clinical documentation and insufficient detail in the classification system. Methods: The 2002/03 hospital morbidity dataset of 593,079 injury-related hospital admissions was analysed to examine the specificity of coded external cause-of-injury data. Results: While overall specificity appeared high, the cause of 47,660 injuries was not specifically defined according to the code assigned. Only 56% of cases for whom injury was the result of an accidental fall were assigned a specific code to identify the causal detail; 19% were assigned an ‘Other Specified’ fall code, suggesting a lack of specific code availability; and 25% were assigned an ‘Unspecified Fall’ code, suggesting a lack of clinical documentation to facilitate code selection. Conclusions: To improve the quality of injury-related hospital morbidity data, two main areas to focus resources are: 1) the development of more specific cause-ofinjury codes; and 2) the provision of more detailed documentation from clinicians. Implications: Clinicians and clinical coders need to work together to improve the quality of injury-related coded data through the provision of specific codes and improved clinical documentation. Accurate and comprehensive data pertaining to the circumstances surrounding hospitalised injury events will benefit injury prevention and surveillance initiatives, provide justification for resources related to injury hospitalisation, and assist in external cause research in Australia.

Impact and interest:

17 citations in Scopus
15 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 6108
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: Author contact details:
Additional URLs:
Keywords: ICD Codes, Injuries, Data Quality, Morbidity data
ISSN: 1326-0200
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Health Information Systems (incl. Surveillance) (111711)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Epidemiology (111706)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Research Centres > National Centre for Health Information Research & Training
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 Public Health Association of Australia
Copyright Statement: Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Deposited On: 28 Mar 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2013 00:05

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