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Open Access Research article

Impact of date stamping on patient safety measurement in patients undergoing CABG: Experience with the AHRQ Patient Safety Indicators

Laurent G Glance1*, Yue Li2, Turner M Osler3, Dana B Mukamel4 and Andrew W Dick5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Anesthesiology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York, USA

2 Department of Medicine, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA

3 Department of Surgery, University of Vermont Medical College, Burlington, Vermont, USA

4 Department of Medicine, University of California, Center for Health Policy Research, Irvine, California, USA

5 RAND Corporation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

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BMC Health Services Research 2008, 8:176  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-176

Published: 13 August 2008



The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Patient Safety Indicators (PSIs) provide information on hospital risk-adjusted rates for potentially preventable adverse events. Although designed to work with routine administrative data, it is unknown whether the PSIs can accurately distinguish between complications and pre-existing conditions. The objective of this study is to examine whether the AHRQ PSIs accurately measure hospital complication rates, using the data with present-on-admission (POA) codes to distinguish between complications and pre-existing conditions


Retrospective cohort study of patients undergoing isolated CABG surgery in California conducted using the 1998–2000 California State Inpatient Database. We calculated the positive predictive value of selected AHRQ PSIs using information from the POA as the gold standard, and the intra-class correlation coefficient to assess the level of agreement between the hospital risk-adjusted PSI rates with and without the information contained in the POA modifier.


The false positive error rate, defined as one minus the positive predictive value, was greater than or equal to 20% for four of the eight PSIs examined: decubitus ulcer, failure-to-rescue, postoperative physiologic and metabolic derangement, and postoperative pulmonary embolism or deep venous thrombosis. Pairwise comparison of the hospital risk-adjusted PSI rates, with and without POA information, demonstrated almost perfect agreement for five of the eight PSI's. For decubitus ulcer, failure-to-rescue, and postoperative pulmonary embolism or DVT, the intraclass-correlation coefficient ranged between 0.63 to 0.79.


For some of the AHRQ Patient Safety Indicators, there are significant differences in the risk-adjusted rates of adverse events depending on whether the POA indicator is used to distinguish between pre-existing conditions and complications. The use of the POA indicator will increase the accuracy of the AHRQ PSIs as measures of adverse outcomes.