Hospitals wrongly record one in six clinical procedures

Practice-based commissioning groups could be buying the wrong services, because nearly a sixth of clinical procedures are wrongly recorded by hospitals.

Administrative staff record and ‘code’ all clinical activity undertaken within each hospital. The resulting data is used to determine how much trusts hospitals are paid under Payment By Results, and to guide those who commission services.

But an investigation by the Audit Commission published today found that trusts were miscoding an average of 16.5 per cent of procedures. The worst performer got it wrong in more than 70 per cent of cases.

Andy McKeon, the Commission’s managing director for health, called for better training for those doing the coding.

He also called for stronger clinical involvement, noting that at West Middlesex NHS Trust, where coders and clinicians meet regularly, coding is 100 per cent accurate.

The Audit Commission analysed more than 50,000 care episodes undertaken in 2007/8.

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