Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Designing an abstraction instrument: lessons from efforts to validate the AHRQ patient safety indicators.

Utter GH, Borzecki AM, Rosen AK, Zrelak PA, Sadeghi B, Baron R, Cuny J, Kaafarani HM, Geppert JJ, Romano PS. Designing an abstraction instrument: lessons from efforts to validate the AHRQ patient safety indicators. Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. 2011 Jan 1; 37(1):20-8.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


BACKGROUND: The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and other organizations have developed quality indicators based on hospital administrative data. Characteristics of effective abstraction instruments were identified for determining both the positive predictive value (PPV) of Patient Safety Indicators (PSIs) and the extent to which hospitals and clinicians could have prevented adverse events. METHODS: Through an iterative process involving nurse abstractors, physicians, and nurses with quality improvement experience, and health services researchers, 25 abstraction instruments were designed for 12 AHRQ provider-level morbidity PSIs. Data were analyzed from 13 of these instruments, and data are being collected using several more. FINDINGS: Common problems in designing the instruments included avoiding uninformative questions and premature termination of the abstraction process, anticipating misinterpretation of questions, allowing an appropriate range of response options; using clear terminology, optimizing the flow of the abstraction process, balancing the utility of data against abstractor burden, and recognizing the needs of end users, such as hospitals and quality improvement professionals and researchers, for the abstracted information. CONCLUSIONS: Designing medical record abstraction instruments for quality improvement research involves several potential pitfalls. Understanding how we addressed these challenges might help both investigators and users of outcome indicators to appreciate the strengths and limitations of outcome-based quality indicators and tools designed to validate or investigate such indicators within provider organizations.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.