Open Access Research article

Discrepancies between the medical record and the reports of patients with acute coronary syndrome regarding important aspects of the medical history

Chete Eze-Nliam12, Kellie Cain2, Kasey Bond3, Keith Forlenza3, Rachel Jankowski3, Gina Magyar-Russell24, Gayane Yenokyan5 and Roy C Ziegelstein6*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Hospital Medicine, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore, MD, USA

2 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA

3 Department of Psychology, Loyola University Maryland, Baltimore, MD, USA

4 Department of Pastoral Counseling, Loyola University Maryland, Baltimore, MD, USA

5 Johns Hopkins Biostatistics Center, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA

6 Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA

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BMC Health Services Research 2012, 12:78  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-78

Published: 26 March 2012



Many critical treatment decisions are based on the medical history of patients with an acute coronary syndrome (ACS). Discrepancies between the medical history documented by a health professional and the patient's own report may therefore have important health consequences.


Medical histories of 117 patients with an ACS were documented. A questionnaire assessing the patient's health history was then completed by 62 eligible patients. Information about 13 health conditions with relevance to ACS management was obtained from the questionnaire and the medical record. Concordance between these two sources and reasons for discordance were identified.


There was significant variation in agreement, from very poor in angina (kappa < 0) to almost perfect in diabetes (kappa = 0.94). Agreement was substantial in cerebrovascular accident (kappa = 0.76) and hypertension (kappa = 0.73); moderate in cocaine use (kappa = 0.54), smoking (kappa = 0.46), kidney disease (kappa = 0.52) and congestive heart failure (kappa = 0.54); and fair in arrhythmia (kappa = 0.37), myocardial infarction (kappa = 0.31), other cardiovascular diseases (kappa = 0.37) and bronchitis/pneumonia (kappa = 0.31). The odds of agreement was 42% higher among individuals with at least some college education (OR = 1.42; 95% CI, 1.00 - 2.01, p = 0.053). Listing of a condition in medical record but not in the questionnaire was a common cause of discordance.


Discrepancies in aspects of the medical history may have important effects on the care of ACS patients. Future research focused on identifying the most effective and efficient means to obtain accurate health information may improve ACS patient care quality and safety.