Health Services Information: Patient Safety Research Using Administrative Data
A wide variety of data is routinely collected by healthcare providers, insurers, professional organizations, and government agencies for administrative purposes. Readily available, computer readable, and covering large populations, these data have become valuable resources for patient safety research. A large number of exemplary studies have been conducted that examined the nature and types of patient safety problems, offered valuable insights into the impacts and risk factors, and, to some extent, provided benchmarks for tracking progress in patient safety efforts at local, state, or national levels. Various methods and tools have been developed to aid such research. The main disadvantage lies with the fact these administrative data are often collected without following any research design, protocol, or quality assurance procedure; therefore health services researchers using these data sources must make extra efforts in devising proper methodologies and must interpret their findings with extra caution. As more and more administrative data are collected and digitalized and more tailored methodologies and tools are developed, health services researchers will be presented with ever-greater opportunity to extract valid information and knowledge on patient safety issues from administrative data.
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