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A validation study: how effective is the Hospital Morbidity Data as a surveillance tool for heart failure in Western Australia?


Correspondence to:
Tiew-Hwa Katherine Teng, School of Population Health (M431) University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009. Fax: (08) 6488 1188; e-mail:


Objective: To determine the accuracy of the hospital discharge coding of heart failure (HF) in the Western Australian (WA) Hospital Morbidity Data (HMD).

Methods: A retrospective medical chart review of a sample of 1,006 patients with a principal diagnosis code indicating HF in the WA HMD was undertaken. Validation was reported against a written diagnosis of HF in the medical chart and using Boston criteria score as a gold standard.

Results: The positive predictive value (PPV) of the HMD coding of HF as the principal diagnosis was 99.5% when compared to the medical chart diagnosis and 92.4% when compared to the Boston score criteria for ‘definite’ HF and 98.8% for a combined ‘possible’ and ‘definite’ HF Boston score.

Conclusions: With the high predictive accuracy, the WA HMD can be used with confidence to monitor trends in the epidemiology of in-hospital HF patients.

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