Impact of improved documentation on an academic neurosurgical practice: Clinical article

Omar Zalatimo, Moksha Ranasinghe, Robert E. Harbaugh, Mark Iantosca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Object. Accuracy in documenting clinical care is becoming increasingly important; it can greatly affect the success of a neurosurgery department. As patient outcomes are being more rigorously monitored, inaccurate documentation of patient variables may present a distorted picture of the severity of illness (SOI) of the patients and adversely affect observed versus expected mortality ratios and hospital reimbursement. Just as accuracy of coding is important for generating professional revenue, accuracy of documentation is important for generating technical revenue. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of an educational intervention on the documentation of patient comorbidities as well as its impact on quality metrics and hospital margin per case. Methods. All patients who were discharged from the Department of Neurosurgery of the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center between November 2009 and June 2012 were evaluated. An educational intervention to improve documentation was implemented and evaluated, and the next 16 months, starting in March 2011, were used for comparison with the previous 16 months in regard to All Patient Refined Diagnosis-Related Group (APR-DRG) weight, SOI, risk of mortality (ROM), case mix index (CMI), and margin per discharge. Results. The APR-DRG weight was corrected from 2.123 ± 0.140 to 2.514 ± 0.224; the SOI was corrected from 1.8638 ± 0.0855 to 2.154 ± 0.130; the ROM was corrected from 1.5106 ± 0.0884 to 1.801 ± 0.117; and the CMI was corrected from 2.429 ± 0.153 to 2.825 ± 0.232, and as a result the average margin per discharge improved by 42.2%. The mean values are expressed ± SD throughout. Conclusions. A simple educational intervention can have a significant impact on documentation accuracy, quality metrics, and revenue generation in an academic neurosurgery department.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)756-763
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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