Accuracy of Hospital Discharge Codes in Medicare Claims for Knee and Hip Replacement Patients

Hyunjee Kim, Jenny I. Grunditz, Thomas H.A. Meath, Ana R. Quinõnes, Said A. Ibrahim, K. John McConnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background:Despite the importance of the hospital discharge destination field ("discharge code" hereafter) for research and payment reform, its accuracy is not well established.Objectives:The aim of this study was to examine the accuracy of discharge codes in Medicare claims.Data Sources:2012-2015 Medicare claims of knee and hip replacement patients.Research Design:We identified patients' discharge location in claims and compared it with the discharge code. We also used a mixed-effects logistic regression to examine the association of patient and hospital characteristics with discharge code accuracy.Results:Approximately 9% of discharge codes were inaccurate. Long-term care hospital discharge codes had the lowest accuracy rate (41%), followed by acute care transfers (72%), inpatient rehabilitation facility (80%), and home discharges (83%). Most misclassifications occurred within 2 broad groups of postacute care settings: Home-based and institutional care. The odds of inaccurate discharge codes were higher for Medicaid-enrolled patients and safety-net and low-volume hospitals.Conclusions:Inaccurate hospital discharge coding may have introduced bias in studies relying on these codes (eg, evaluations of Medicare bundled payment models). Inaccuracy was more common among Medicaid-enrolled patients and safety-net and low-volume hospitals, suggesting more potential bias in existing study findings pertaining to these patients and hospitals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-495
Number of pages5
JournalMedical care
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • Medicare
  • administrative data uses
  • health economics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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