Background The Victorian Emergency Minimum Dataset is a database used by the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit that includes injury presentations to all public Victorian emergency departments with a 24-hour service. Triage staff are required to input information on patients who have sustained an injury which includes activity, place, cause, nature of injury and affected body region, as well as a 250-character narrative outlining the circumstances of the injury. Data is collected in an often busy emergency department, thereby affecting the quality and detail of the data collected.
Objective To determine the degree to which data collected by emergency department staff provides complete profiles of injury circumstances.
Design Analysis of emergency department injury variables and case narratives, using injuries sustained in fitness facilities as a case study.
Participants 1 979 de-identified injured persons who have presented to included Victorian emergency departments.
Main outcome measurement To compare the narrative text descriptions of the injury events with the required coded injury variables to determine the level of agreement and the completeness of the injury surveillance data.
Results The pre-specified variables were least complete for cause of injury and were coded as unspecified 51.9% of the time. Activity at time of injury was unspecified/miscoded (based on assessment of narrative) 24.2% of the time, whilst the location of the injury was unspecified or miscoded in 33.0% of cases. Nature of injury and body region had comparatively small proportions of unspecified variables (8.4% and 5.6% respectively). Inadequate information about the specific fitness activity associated with injury occurred in 18.6% of the narratives (e.g. providing no further information than “injured at gym”) or they omitted activity, place, cause, injury type or body region details.
Conclusion For a full perspective on injury surveillance, neither the narrative nor the injury variables can be solely relied upon to provide details of the entire circumstances surrounding an injury.
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