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Detecting chronic kidney disease in population-based administrative databases using an algorithm of hospital encounter and physician claim codes


Background — Large, population-based administrative healthcare databases can be used to identify patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) when serum creatinine laboratory results are unavailable. The researchers examined the validity of algorithms that used combined hospital encounter and physician claims database codes for the detection of CKD in Ontario, Canada.

Methods — The researchers accrued 123,499 patients over the age of 65 from 2007 to 2010. All patients had a baseline serum creatinine value to estimate glomerular filtration rate (eGFR). The researchers developed an algorithm of physician claims and hospital encounter codes to search administrative databases for the presence of CKD. The researchers determined the sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values of this algorithm to detect our primary threshold of CKD, an eGFR <45 mL/min per 1.73 m2 (15.4% of patients). The researchers also assessed serum creatinine and eGFR values in patients with and without CKD codes (algorithm positive and negative, respectively).

Results — The algorithm required evidence of at least one of eleven CKD codes and 7.7% of patients were algorithm positive. The sensitivity was 32.7% [95% confidence interval: (95% CI): 32.0 to 33.3%]. Sensitivity was lower in women compared to men (25.7 vs. 43.7%; p <0.001) and in the oldest age category (over 80 vs. 66 to 80; 28.4 vs. 37.6 %; p < 0.001). All specificities were over 94%. The positive and negative predictive values were 65.4% (95% CI: 64.4 to 66.3%) and 88.8% (95% CI: 88.6 to 89.0%), respectively. In algorithm positive patients, the median [interquartile range (IQR)] baseline serum creatinine value was 135 mumol/L (106 to 179 mumol/L) compared to 82 mumol/L (69 to 98 mumol/L) for algorithm negative patients. Corresponding eGFR values were 38 mL/min per 1.73 m2 (26 to 51 mL/min per 1.73 m2) vs. 69 mL/min per 1.73 m2 (56 to 82 mL/min per 1.73 m2), respectively.

Conclusions — Patients with CKD as identified by our database algorithm had distinctly higher baseline serum creatinine values and lower eGFR values than those without such codes. However, because of limited sensitivity, the prevalence of CKD was underestimated.



Fleet JL, Dixon SN, Shariff SZ, Quinn RR, Nash DM, Harel Z, Garg AX. BMC Nephrol. 2013; 14:81. Epub 2013 Apr 5.

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