Validity of Patient-Reported Complications: 6 Important Points

Can Patients Accurately Report surgical complications?

Yes. Two different studies from 2012 prove the validity of patient-reported complications. Not only are they valid, they are more accurate than administrative data commonly used.

The two studies:

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Patient reported complication tracking is more accurate than traditional methods.
  • Don’t ask about ‘bleeding’- just don’t. It doesn’t work.
  • Recall bias is real. Patients are not able to accurately report the month, or sometimes even year, of the complication, if more than 2 years has gone by.
  • Traditional methods of complication tracking are less than ideal. The 2 standard methods for getting post op complication information is through insurance billing data (aka ‘administrative claim data’), or the office and hospital records (aka institutional data). Hospital billers and orthopedic billers do things very differently, which makes administrative claim data not a reliable source. The variation between ‘hospitals’ and ‘orthopedic’ bill coding is huge.
  • 65.6% of patients who suffer a post-op complication do not go back to the hospital/provider that did the original surgery. Just another reason why administrative claim data doesn’t work.
  • When asking patients questions about ‘fractures’ and ‘infections’, be specific. The goal is to find out whether or not they had surgical complication, not the details about their last sinus infection, which is what you will get if you don’t clarify up front.

Validated patient-reported outcomes provide an opportunity for surgeons to accurately follow-up on patients. To read more on complication, Check out Why Surgeons Need to Track Total Joint Complications . Collection of the outcomes the right way, can provide unique opportunities for innovation/improvements to procedures. Speak to a CODE TECHNOLOGY outcomes specialist about setting up a 15-minute call to discuss how we help practices track their complications.

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CODE Technology

We’re research nerds, and we believe Patient-Reported Outcomes are going to transform healthcare for the better - and we’re not alone. That is why we’re helping organizations collect and interpret as much data as possible, as efficiently as possible. Let us help you help the world.