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Bad CDC Data May Have Skewed Research

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, October 29, 2012

Green says he suspects that the personnel, who are hired by the CDC and assigned to go to hospitals and perform chart reviews to complete the survey and check all the boxes, may not "be trained to understand" the meaning of the term endotracheal intubation. "If you don't know what that means, the odds are you're not going to code it accurately, and that's my worry here."

Asked for a response, a CDC public information representative says the agency does not comment on journal articles that CDC personnel do not author.  Green says that after he informed a CDC official about his results, he was told that the inconsistencies he discovered are "under investigation."

Going forward, he says, researchers who want to use the NHAMCS data, or research projects stemming from it, "should have a little bit more concern about whether the underlying data is correct.  I just worry about the hundreds of papers already out there, or in press, and wonder how many of them have a result that is incorrect due to the underlying data."


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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