Multisite medical record review of emergency department visits for unspecified injury of head following the ICD-10-CM coding transition

Alexis Peterson, Barbara A. Gabella, Jewell Johnson, Beth Hume, Ann Liu, Julia F. Costich, Jeanne Hathaway, Svetla Slavova, Renee Johnson, Matt Breiding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION: In 2016, a proposed International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Edition, Clinical Modification surveillance definition for traumatic brain injury (TBI) morbidity was introduced that excluded the unspecified injury of head (S09.90) diagnosis code. This study assessed emergency department (ED) medical records containing S09.90 for evidence of TBI based on medical documentation. METHODS: State health department representatives in Maryland, Kentucky, Colorado and Massachusetts reviewed a target of 385 randomly sampled ED records uniquely assigned the S09.90 diagnosis code (without proposed TBI codes), which were initial medical encounters among state residents discharged home during October 2015-December 2018. Using standardised abstraction procedures, reviewers recorded signs and symptoms of TBI, and head imaging results. A tiered case confirmation strategy was applied that assigned a level of certainty (high, medium, low, none) to each record based on the number and type of symptoms and imaging results present in the record. Positive predictive value (PPV) of S09.90 by level of TBI certainty was calculated by state. RESULTS: Wide variation in PPV of sampled ED records assigned S09.90: 36%-52% had medium or high evidence of TBI, while 48%-64% contained low or no evidence of a TBI. Loss of consciousness was mentioned in 8%-24% of sampled medical records. DISCUSSION: Exclusion of the S09.90 code in surveillance estimates may result in many missed TBI cases; inclusion may result in counting many false positives. Further, missed TBI cases influenced by incidence estimates, based on the TBI surveillance definition, may lead to inadequate allocation of public health resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)i13-i18
JournalInjury Prevention
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.


  • epidemiology
  • surveillance
  • traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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