ICD-9 Code-Based Venous Thromboembolism Performance Targets Fail to Measure Up

Brandyn Lau, Elliott Haut, Deborah B. Hobson, Peggy S. Kraus, Chepkorir Maritim, John Matthew Austin, Kenneth M Shermock, Bhunesh Maheshwari, Paul X. Allen, Aileen Almario, Michael B Streiff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a common complication among hospitalized patients. Suboptimal prevention practices have prompted payers to consider hospital-associated VTE as a potentially preventable condition for which financial incentives or penalties exist to drive practice improvement. The authors reviewed all cases of hospital-associated VTE at the Johns Hopkins Hospital between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011, that were identified by ICD-9 codes used by a state-run pay-for-performance quality improvement program. Of 157 patients identified as having developed hospital-associated, potentially preventable VTE, only 92 (58.6%) patients developed radiographically confirmed VTE that were potentially preventable. This misclassification of VTE overestimates the marginal additional treatment cost by more than $860 000 and amounts to nearly $200 000 in lost reward in one year alone. ICD-9 codes alone have extremely low positive predictive value to identify true VTE events. The authors recommend linking provision of risk-appropriate prophylaxis to VTE outcomes as a better target for performance improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-453
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Quality
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • ICD-9
  • pay for performance
  • quality improvement
  • venous thromboembolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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