Epidemiology and Infection

Short Report

Accuracy of ICD-9 coding for Clostridium difficile infections: a retrospective cohort

D. B. SCHEURERa1 c1, L. S. HICKSa1, E. F. COOKa1 and J. L. SCHNIPPERa1

a1 Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA


Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is a major nosocomial problem. Epidemiological surveillance of the disease can be accomplished by microbiological or administrative data. Microbiological tracking is problematic since it does not always translate into clinical disease, and it is not always available. Tracking by administrative data is attractive, but ICD-9 code accuracy for C. diff is unknown. By using a large administrative database of hospitalized patients with C. diff (by ICD-9 code or cytotoxic assay), this study found that the sensitivity, specificity, positive, and negative predictive values of ICD-9 coding were 71%, 99%, 87%, and 96% respectively (using micro data as the gold standard). When only using symptomatic patients the sensitivity increased to 82% and when only using symptomatic patients whose test results were available at discharge, the sensitivity increased to 88%. C. diff ICD-9 codes closely approximate true C. diff infection, especially in symptomatic patients whose test results are available at the time of discharge, and can therefore be used as a reasonable alternative to microbiological data for tracking purposes.

(Accepted October 24 2006)

(Online publication December 07 2006)


c1 Author for correspondence: D. B. Scheurer, M.D., Brigham and Women's Hospital, Division of General Internal Medicine, 75 Francis Street, PB/B4/434, Boston, MA 02115, USA. (Email: Dscheurer@partners.org)