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The need for a national emergency health services database


Objective — In February 2007, the Health Council of Canada, in its third annual report, emphasized the need for pan-Canadian data on our healthcare system. To date, no studies have examined the strengths and weaknesses of emergency health services (EHS) administrative databases, as perceived by researchers. We undertook a qualitative study to determine, from a researcher's perspective, the strengths and weaknesses of EHS administrative databases. The study also elicited researchers' suggestions to improve these databases.

Methods — We conducted taped interviews with 4 Canadian health services researchers. The transcriptions were subsequently examined for common concepts, which were finalized after discussion with all the investigators.

Results — Five common themes emerged from the interviews: clinical detail, data quality, data linkage, data use and population coverage. Data use and data linkages were considered strengths. Clinical detail, data quality and population coverage were considered weaknesses.

Conclusion — The 5 themes that emerged from this study all serve to reinforce the call from the Health Council of Canada for national data on emergency services, which could be readily captured through a national EHS administrative database. We feel that key stakeholders involved in emergency services across Canada should work together to develop a strategy to implement an accurate, clinically detailed, integrated and comprehensive national EHS database.



Kennedy S, Young W, Schull M, Isaac W. CJEM. 2008; 10(2):120-4.

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