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Background Administrative hospital diagnostic coding data are increasingly used in "big data" research and to assess complication rates after surgery or acute medical conditions. Acute stroke is a common complication of several procedures/conditions, such as carotid interventions, but data are lacking on the sensitivity of administrative coding in identifying acute stroke during inpatient stay. Methods and Results Using all acute strokes ascertained in a population-based cohort (2002-2017) as the reference, we determined the sensitivity of hospital administrative diagnostic codes ( International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision; ICD-10) for identifying acute strokes that occurred during hospital admission for other reasons, stratified by coding strategies, study periods, and stroke severity (National Institutes of Health Stroke Score</≥5). Of 3011 acute strokes, 198 (6.6%) occurred during hospital admissions for procedures/other diseases, including 122 (61.6%) major strokes. Using stroke-specific codes ( ICD-10=I60-I61 and I63-I64) in the primary diagnostic position, 66 of the 198 cases were correctly identified (sensitivity for any stroke, 33.3%; 95% CI, 27.1-40.2; minor stroke, 30.3%; 95% CI, 21.0-41.5; major stroke, 35.2%; 95% CI, 27.2-44.2), with no improvement of sensitivity over time ( Ptrend=0.54). Sensitivity was lower during admissions for surgery/procedures than for other acute medical admissions (n/% 17/23.3% versus 49/39.2%; P=0.02). Sensitivity improved to 60.6% (53.6-67.2) for all and 61.6% (50.0-72.1) for surgery/procedures if other diagnostic positions were used, and to 65.2% (58.2-71.5) and 68.5% (56.9-78.1) respectively if combined with use of all possible nonspecific stroke-related codes (ie, adding ICD-10=I62 and I65-I68). Conclusions Low sensitivity of administrative coding in identifying acute strokes that occurred during admission does not support its use alone for audit of complication rates of procedures or hospitalization for other reasons.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of the American Heart Association

Publication Date





e012995 - e012995


1 Centre for Prevention of Stroke and Dementia Nuffield Department of Clinical Neuroscience University of Oxford United Kingdom.


Oxford Vascular Study