Derivation and validation of a chief complaint shortlist for unscheduled acute and emergency care in Uganda.

TitleDerivation and validation of a chief complaint shortlist for unscheduled acute and emergency care in Uganda.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsRice BTravis, Bisanzo M, Maling S, Joseph R, Mowafi H
Corporate AuthorsGlobal Emergency Care Investigators Group(Study Group)
JournalBMJ Open
Date Published2018 06 27
ISSN Number2044-6055
KeywordsAdolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Child, Child, Preschool, Emergency Medical Services, Emergency Service, Hospital, Female, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, International Classification of Diseases, Male, Middle Aged, Patient Discharge, Reproducibility of Results, Retrospective Studies, Triage, Uganda, Young Adult

OBJECTIVES: Derive and validate a shortlist of chief complaints to describe unscheduled acute and emergency care in Uganda.

SETTING: A single, private, not-for profit hospital in rural, southwestern Uganda.

PARTICIPANTS: From 2009 to 2015, 26 996 patient visits produced 42 566 total chief complaints for the derivation dataset, and from 2015 to 2017, 10 068 visits produced 20 165 total chief complaints for the validation dataset.

METHODS: A retrospective review of an emergency centre quality assurance database was performed. Data were abstracted, cleaned and refined using language processing in Stata to produce a longlist of chief complaints, which was collapsed via a consensus process to produce a shortlist and turned into a web-based tool. This tool was used by two local Ugandan emergency care practitioners to categorise complaints from a second longlist produced from a separate validation dataset from the same study site. Their agreement on grouping was analysed using Cohen's kappa to determine inter-rater reliability. The chief complaints describing 80% of patient visits from automated and consensus shortlists were combined to form a candidate chief complaint shortlist.

RESULTS: Automated data cleaning and refining recognised 95.8% of all complaints and produced a longlist of 555 chief complaints. The consensus process yielded a shortlist of 83 grouped chief complaints. The second validation dataset was reduced in Stata to a longlist of 451 complaints. Using the shortlist tool to categorise complaints produced 71.5% agreement, yielding a kappa of 0.70 showing substantial inter-rater reliability. Only one complaint did not fit into the shortlist and required a free-text amendment. The two shortlists were identical for the most common 14 complaints and combined to form a candidate list of 24 complaints that could characterise over 80% of all emergency centre chief complaints.

CONCLUSIONS: Shortlists of chief complaints can be generated to improve standardisation of data entry, facilitate research efforts and be employed for paper chart usage.

Alternate JournalBMJ Open
PubMed ID29950461
PubMed Central IDPMC6020949
Faculty Reference: 
Bradley A. Dreifuss, MD