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APPENDIX F RELIABILITY OF FIELD WORK Despite the care with which the field team was selected and trained and the thorough editing of data, an independent assessment of the reli- ability of the field team's work was performed. A consultant who had assisted in training the field team independently re-abstracted a subsample of records and compared her results to those initially com- piled by the field team. This Appendix presents the methods and find- ings from that activity. Methods The original seventy-one hospitals were first divided into four groups, depending on which field team member had visited each facility. The hospitals in each group were then categorized according to whether they were visited during the first or last half of the abstractor's field work. From each of the resulting eight groups, one hospital was chosen at random for inclusion in the study. Thus, all seventy-one hospitals had a posssibility of selection. All eight hospitals agreed to a second site visit by the consultant. In each hospital one-half the records from the original sample (approximately thirty-six records) were selected for review. To accomplish this, the records were equally divided between those in which no discrepancy had been found between the IOM abstract and the Medicare record and those in which one or more discrepancies had been found. Within each group, the assessment records were then chosen at random. Two hundred eighty-one records were available for analysis. Each new abstract was assigned a weight to reflect the probability of selection of both abstract and hospital in the assessment analysis. The results can be generalized to the universe of all IOM abstracts. The forms and instructions used in the assessment are the same as those used by the field team (see Appendix D). However, the consultant was not asked to consult any Medicare claim forms because of time constraints. The consultant did not know which member of the field team had done the initial abstracting or whether any discrepancies had initially been detected. After completing the independent abstracting, the consultant reviewed the Medicare record (also used by the field team) 107
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APPENDIX F 108 and reconciled discrepancies according to the process used by the field team. The. goals of this process were to check whether the TOM abstracter made a reasonable judgment about the accuracy of the Medicare data and whether the field team's assessment of the reasons for discrepancy were plausible. The independent re-abstracting does not answer definitively the question of the reliability of the field team's work. The re-abstracting sample was very small. The perspectives of the consultant and field team may have been somewhat dissimilar. An alternative assessment method would have been to have the field team members check on one another, but this option was precluded by time and budget constraints. Neverthe- le.ss in a situation where the concept of data accuracy is tenuous at best (for some abstracted items, there is no clear "right answer") the. independent assessment was intended to help in determining the soundness of the. basic study data. Analysis The analysis involved a comparison of three sources of data: that generated by HCFA, the IOM abstracters, and the consultant. Special attention was given to determining whether the field team and con- sultant initially abstracted the medical record in a similar manner and, where there were differences, whether they agree on the correct source of data and the. reasons for discrepancies. Table 1 shows that data on dates of admission and discharge and patient's sex were. highly reliable, thus confirming the findings of the initial analysis. The levels of agreement on the presence of additional diagnoses and principal procedure were quite high; however, there was considerably less agreement on principal diagnosis. The "no discrepancy" figures slightly under-estimate the data reliability, because they do not include those' cases where there was a discrepancy between the field team member and the consultant, but the consultant agreed with the re-abstractor's determination of correct data source. ~ Table. 1. Comparison of Data Abstracted by the Consultant and the Field Team (weighted percent) ~ -~- ~ , . . Agreement on correct data -source where a discrepancy exists - No discrepancy -~Agree Disagree Total Admit date . . . ~ Discharge date Sex Principal diagnosis* Presence of additional diagnoses Principal procedure 99 . 6 0 . 4 - 1 00 . 0% 99.2 0.8 - 100.0 100.0 - - 100.0 75.8 0.3 23.9 100.0 93.0 0.6 6.4 88.4 0.2 11.4 100.0 100.0 Note: Unweighted N = 281 abstracts *compared to four digits
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109 APPENDIX F It should be noted that the levels of agreement between the two data sources in this assessment are not fully comparable with similar data in the body of the report because of different weighting factors and differences in the populations to which the statistics are generalizable. More specifically, for the total data set examined by the field team, the data were weighted to reflect the universe of all diagnoses included in the ICDA-8 classification system, as adopted by HCFA (see page 8~. The weighted percent of the sample devoted to the 15 specific diagnoses was 40.8, while 59.2 percent of the sample fell into the 'tall else.' category and included those diagnoses necessary to represent the rest of the universe and permit the calculation of net and gross difference rates (see Table 7 on page 33). On the other hand, in the assessment of the field work, the sample was drawn to be representative of the unweighted data set produced by the field team. (Because of the small sample size, applying the basic weights from the total data set to the assessment abstracts would have produced serious distortions.) With this approach, 75.4 percent of the assessment abstracts represented the 15 specific diagnoses, while only 24.6 percent fell into the "all else" category (see Table 4, below). The over-representation of the specific diagnoses in the assessment means that the two data bases are not comparable. Accordingly, it is misleading to use the percent of abstracts with no discrepancy on principal diagnosis between the field team and consultant as an indication of the overall quality of the field team's work. The fact of variation is apparent, however. For that reason further analyses were done to try to determine the extent of differences between the consultant and field team and the underlying reasons. Where there were discrepancies between the field team and consultant, quite often both also disagreed with the Medicare record (see Table 2~. This occurred for about fifty percent of the principal diagnoses and about forty-one percent of the principal procedures. In other words, each of the three data sources contained different pieces of information all based on the same patient medical record. For the remaining cases of discrepancies between the field team and consultant, agreement - between the field team and the Medicare record was more likely than agreement between the consultant and the Medicare record. Table 2. Data Source in Agreement with Medicare Record when Discrepancies were Found Between the TOM Abstract and Assessment Abstract _ . . u .. Data item Assessment ION abstract Neither Total Principal Diagnosis Principal Procedure . . . 17.2 33.7 49.1 100.0% 40.8 100.0
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APPENDIX F 110 To determine whether the sampling categories were related to varying levels of data accuracy, the diagnoses were grouped according to their reason for inclusion in the sample--entire Diagnosis Related Groupings and specific and residual diagnoses within the DRGs (see Table 3~. The sampling categories were not influential (confirming the findings of Chapter 3~; the level of coding refinement was. Diagnoses compared to four digits were least accurate; AUTOGRP comparisons were most accurate. Table 3. Comparison of Data Abstracted by the Consultant and the Field Team by Sampling Categories and Level of Coding Re finement (weighted percent) Sampling Category Percent with no discrepancy AUTOGRP Three-digit Four-digit Entire DRGs* (N = 215) Specific diagnoses (N = 187) Residual diagnoses** 85.8 82.3 79.0 85.4 81.4 77.7 *Excludes abstracts with a diagnosis listed in the "all easer category in Appendix C. **Results are not presented because of the small number of cases. Diagnostic-specific discrepancy rates are not presented because the numbers of abstracts per diagnosis are so small. However, Table 4 shows the distribution of discrepancies between the field work and assessment by diagnosis. The assessment confirms the finding that reliability is lowest for chronic ischemic heart disease. Where both the field team and assessment data differed from that on the Medicare record but agreed with each other, the extent of agree- ment on reasons selected to explain discrepancies with the Medicare record was also examined. The possibly subjective nature of this assessment and the need to apply judgment in selecting from the several options were noted in Chapter 2. Because of the sizable number of options and the small number of abstracts reviewed in the assessment, only the general categories of reasons for discrepancy are considered here. Table 5 shows the extent to which the field team and consultant agreed that the reasons for discrepancy between
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111 APPENDIX F Table 4. Distribution of Discrepancies between the Field Work and Assessment by Diagnosis . ,, Chronic ischemic heart disease Cereb rovascul ar d isease Fracture, upper neck o f femur Cataract Acute myocardial infarc Lion Weighted per cent of the total number of discrep- anc ies for each d iagno s i s - 14.1 12.2 - 5.7 Unwe ight ed number 0 f ab- stracts with . . . a~screpanc yes . . 7 7 o o 4 . Weighted percent of the total number of abstracts in the as se s sment for each d iag- nosis 6.9 6.3 6.5 3.3 9.4 Inguinal hernia without mention of obstruction - O 4.5 Diabe tes 8 . 1 4 5 . 2 Hyperplas ia of the prostate 7.2 4 5. 7 Bronchopneumon ia- organism not specified and pneumonla-organlsm and type not spec if fed o 9.8 Cholel ithiasis/ cholecystitis 2.8 12 4.4 Inte s t in al ob s true t ion without mention of hernia 4.5 6 4.0 Conge s t ive hc art failure 4.2 3 2.0 Diverticulosis of intestine 4.7 2 4.0 Bronchitis - O l.1 Mal ignant neoplasm of bronchus and lung - O 5.6 All Else 36.5 19 24.6 Total 100. 0% 68 100. 0
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APPENDIX F 112 the original abstract and the Medicare record stemmed from difficulties in deciding which diagnosis or procedure was principal (an ordering discrepancy) or from errors in assigning the proper diagnostic or procedural code number (a coding discrepancy). "General agreement'. means that both chosen the same general category, but may have selected different specific reasons. For example, one may have decided that the reason was "coding completeness" while the other selected "coding judgment." Where there was complete agreement, they selected the same general and specific reasons. Where the consultant disagreed with the Medicare record, the reason selected was similar to the one chosen by the field team for about 75 percent of the diagnostic discrepancies (compared to four digits). There was either complete or general agreement between the two on all reasons to explain discrepancies on principal procedure. Table 5. Agreement between the Consultant and Field Team on Reasons for Discrepancies when both Disagreed with the Medicare Record Data (weighted percent) Diagnosis (4 digit) Procedure Complete agreement 36.2 40.7 General agreement 39.1 59.3 Complete disagreement 24.7 Total (Unweighted N) Summary 100.0% 100.0: (67) (49) The reliability of the Institute of Medicine field work was assessed by comparing data provided by HCFA, the IOM abstracters who performed the field work, and the consultant who performed the assessment. The results of the assessment confirm both the findings and the caveats reported in Chapter 3. Data were most reliable for information on hospital admission date, discharge date, and sex. The indication of whether additional diagnoses are present was reported with a high level of reliability. Some difficulty was encountered in conclusively determining which diagnosis or procedure should be regarded as "principal." The reliability of diagnostic data varied, depending on the level of coding refinement and the specific diagnosis. Overall, agreement between the field team and consultant on principal diagnosis ranged from 75.8 percent with four-digit comparisons to 85.8 percent with AUTOGRP. These figures should
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113 APPENDIX F not be compared with findings in the body of the report because of different weighting factors and sampling approaches. In some cases all three data sources contained distinctly different notations for principal diagnosis. Reliability was lowest for chronic ischemic heart disease. For principal procedure the level of agreement reached eighty-eight percent. Where both the field team member and assessment consultant disagreed with the Medicare record, they general ly agreed on the reasons for about seventy-five percent of the discrepancies on principal diagnosis and for all the discrepancies with principal procedure . These findings should be tempered by the limitations of the assessment The sample size was very small. The time available for the assessment was limited.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: