Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Arthritis Research & Therapy and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Veterans Affairs databases are accurate for gout-related health care utilization: a validation study

Jasvinder A Singh

Author Affiliations

Medicine Service and Center for Surgical Medical Acute Care Research and Transitions (C-SMART), Birmingham VA Medical Center, Birmingham, AL, USA

Department of Medicine at School of Medicine, and Division of Epidemiology at School of Public Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 510 20th Street South, Faculty office tower 805B, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN, USA

Arthritis Research & Therapy 2013, 15:R224  doi:10.1186/ar4425

Published: 31 December 2013

Abstract

Introduction

The aim of this study was to assess the accuracy of Veterans Affairs (VA) databases for gout-related health care utilization.

Methods

This retrospective study utilized VA administrative and clinical databases. A random sample of gout patients with visits (outpatient, inpatient or emergent/urgent care) with or without the diagnosis of gout (International Classification of Diseases, ninth revision, common modification ICD-9-CM code of 274.x or 274.xx) at the Birmingham VA hospital was selected. A blinded abstractor performed a review of VA electronic health records for the documentation of gout or gout-related terms (gouty arthritis, tophaceous gout, tophus/tophi, acute gout, chronic gout, podagra, urate stones, urate or uric acid crystals and so on) in the chief complaint, history of present illness or assessment and plan for the visit; this constituted the gold standard for gout-related utilization. The accuracy of database-derived gout-related claims was assessed by calculating sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values (PPV and NPV).

Results

Of 108 potential visits, 85 outpatient, inpatient or urgent care/emergency room visits to a health care provider (85 patients: 84 men and 1 woman with a mean age of 63 years) and retrievable data from medical records constituted the analyzed dataset. Administrative claims for gout-related utilization with ICD-9 code for gout were accurate with a PPV of 86%, specificity of 95%, sensitivity of 86% and NPV of 95%.

Conclusions

VA databases are accurate for gout-related visits. These findings support their use for studies of health services and outcome studies. It remains to be seen if these findings are generalizable to other settings and databases.