Surveillance for Clostridium difficile infection: ICD-9 coding has poor sensitivity compared to laboratory diagnosis in hospital patients, Singapore

Monica Chan, Poh Lian Lim, Angela Chow, Mar Kyaw Win, Timothy M Barkham
PloS One 2011, 6 (1): e15603

INTRODUCTION: Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is an increasingly recognized nosocomial infection in Singapore. Surveillance methods include laboratory reporting of Clostridium difficile toxin assays (CDTA) or use of International Classification of Diseases, 9(th) Revision (ICD-9) discharge code 008.45. Previous US studies showed good correlation between CDTA and ICD-9 codes. However, the use of ICD-9 codes for CDI surveillance has not been validated in other healthcare settings.

METHODS: We compared CDI rates based on CDTA to ICD-9 codes for all discharges in 2007 from our hospital to determine sensitivity and specificity of ICD-9 codes. Demographic and hospitalization data were analyzed to determine predictors for missing ICD-9 codes.

RESULTS: During 2007, there were 56,352 discharges. Of these, 268 tested CDTA-positive but only 133 were assigned the CDI ICD-9 code. A total of 141 discharges had the ICD-9 code; 8 were CDTA-negative, the rest were CDTA-positive. Community-acquired CDI accounted for only 3.2% of cases. The sensitivity and specificity of ICD-9 codes compared to CDTA were 49.6% and 100% respectively. Concordance between CDTA and ICD-9 codes was 0.649 (p<.001). Comparing concordant patients (CDTA+/ICD9+) to discordant patients (CDTA+/ICD9-), concordant patients were more likely to be over 50 years of age (OR 3.49, 95% CI 1.66-7.34, p = .001) and have shorter time from admission to testing (OR 0.98, 95% CI 0.97-0.99, p = .009).

DISCUSSION: Unlike previous studies in the US, ICD-9 codes substantially underestimate CDI in Singapore compared to microbiological data. Older patients with shorter time to testing were less likely to have missing ICD-9 codes.

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