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Can we use administrative data to accurately identify patients who receive a prostate biopsy?


Purpose — Administrative health data can be a valuable resource for health research. Because these data are not collected for research purposes, it is imperative that the accuracy of codes used to identify patients, exposures, and outcomes is measured.

Patients and Methods — Code sensitivity was determined by identifying a cohort of men with histologically confirmed prostate cancer in the Ontario Cancer Registry and linking them to the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) to determine whether a prostate biopsy code had been claimed. Code specificity was estimated using a random sample of patients at The Ottawa Hospital for whom a prostate biopsy code was submitted to OHIP. A simulation model, which varied the code false-positive rate, true-negative rate, and proportion of code positives in the population, was created to determine specificity under a range of combinations of these parameters.

Results — Between 1991 and 2012, 97,369 of 148,669 men with histologically confirmed prostate cancer in the Ontario Cancer Registry had a prostate biopsy code in OHIP within 1 week of their diagnosis (code sensitivity, 86.0%). This increased significantly over time (63.8% in 1991 to 87.9% in 2012). The false-positive rate of the code for index prostate biopsies was 1.9%. The simulation model found that the code specificity exceeded 95% for first prostate biopsy but was lower for secondary biopsies because of more false positives. False positives primarily were related to placement of fiducial markers for patients who received radiotherapy.

Conclusion — Administrative data in Ontario can accurately identify men who receive a prostate biopsy. The code is less accurate for secondary biopsy procedures and their sequelae.



Lavallée LT, Breau RH, Fergusson D, Walsh C, van Walraven C. JCO Clin Cancer Inform. 2018; (2):1-10. Epub 2018 Aug 31.

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