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Open Access Research article

Methodological challenges in using the Finnish Hospital Discharge Register for studying fire-related injuries leading to inpatient care

Kari Haikonen1*, Philippe Lunetta2, Pirjo M Lillsunde3 and Reijo Sund4

Author affiliations

1 Injury Prevention Unit, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Mannerheimintie 164a, P.O. Box 30, FI-00271 Helsinki, Finland

2 Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Helsinki, Kytösuontie 11, P.O. Box 40, , Helsinki, FI-00014, Finland

3 National Institute for Health and Welfare, Mannerheimintie 164a, P.O. Box 30, , Helsinki, FI-00271, Finland

4 Service Systems Research Unit, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Nauvontie 4, P.O. Box 30, , Helsinki, FI-00271, Finland

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Citation and License

BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2013, 13:36  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-13-36

Published: 15 March 2013

Abstract

Background

The objective was to examine feasibility of using hospital discharge register data for studying fire-related injuries.

Methods

The Finnish National Hospital Discharge Register (FHDR) was the database used to select relevant hospital discharge data to study usability and data quality issues. Patterns of E-coding were assessed, as well as prominent challenges in defining the incidence of injuries. Additionally, the issue of defining the relevant amount of hospital days accounted for in injury care was considered.

Results

Directly after the introduction of the ICD-10 classification system, in 1996, the completeness of E-coding was found to be poor, but to have improved dramatically around 2000 and thereafter. The scale of the challenges to defining the incidence of injuries was found to be manageable. In counting the relevant hospital days, psychiatric and long-term care were found to be the obvious and possible sources of overestimation.

Conclusions

The FHDR was found to be a feasible data source for studying fire-related injuries so long as potential challenges are acknowledged and taken into account. Hospital discharge data can be a unique and powerful means for injury research as issues of representativeness and coverage of traditional probability samples can frequently be completely avoided.

Keywords:
Discharge register; Injury; Fire; E-coding; Register study; Burns