Surgeon-Reported Complications vs the AHRQ Patient Safety Indicators: A Comparison of Two Approaches to Identifying Adverse Events

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Background: Traditionally, clinicians present complications at surgical morbidity and mortality (M&M) conferences, and the AHRQ Patient Safety Indicators (PSIs) use inpatient administrative data to identify certain adverse outcomes. Although both methods are used to identify adverse events and inform quality improvement efforts, these 2 methods might not overlap. Study Design: This is a retrospective observational study of all hospitalizations at a single academic department of surgery (including subspecialties) in 2016 involving a PSI-defined event (PSIs 03, 05 to 15) identified by surgery faculty and residents for review by departmental M&M conference or administrative data (according to AHRQ, version 6.0). Pediatric cases were excluded. We analyzed the degree to which these 2 processes captured PSI-defined events and reasons for exclusion by each process. Results: Among 6,563 surgical hospitalizations, 647 hospitalizations (9.9%) had at least 1 complication identified by the M&M process or the PSIs (or both). Of these hospitalizations, 116 had at least 1 PSI-defined event (for a total of 149 PSI-defined events) captured by either M&M or the PSIs. Most complications (n = 82 [88.2%]) identified by M&M alone were excluded by PSI criteria (as intended), but 11 true PSI events (ie false negatives) were identified by M&M only. In contrast, pressure ulcers and central venous catheter-related bloodstream infections were detected exclusively by the PSIs and not reported via M&M. There was limited overlap, with 18 events (12.1%) captured by both processes. Conclusions: Surgical M&M and the PSIs are complementary approaches to identifying complications. Both case-finding processes should be used to inform quality improvement efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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