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Variation in Documenting Diagnosable Chronic Kidney Disease in General Medical Practice: Implications for Quality Improvement and Research.

  • Kitsos, Alex1
  • Peterson, Gregory M1
  • Jose, Matthew D1, 2
  • Khanam, Masuma Akter1
  • Castelino, Ronald L1, 3
  • Radford, Jan C1
  • 1 1 University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. , (Australia)
  • 2 2 Royal Hobart Hospital, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. , (Australia)
  • 3 3 University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. , (Australia)
Published Article
Journal of primary care & community health
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2019
DOI: 10.1177/2150132719833298
PMID: 30879383


National health surveys indicate that chronic kidney disease (CKD) is an increasingly prevalent condition in Australia, placing a significant burden on the health budget and on the affected individuals themselves. Yet, there are relatively limited data on the prevalence of CKD within Australian general practice patients. In part, this could be due to variation in the terminology used by general practitioners (GPs) to identify and document a diagnosis of CKD. This project sought to investigate the variation in terms used when recording a diagnosis of CKD in general practice. A search of routinely collected de-identified Australian general practice patient data (NPS MedicineWise MedicineInsight from January 1, 2013, to June 1, 2016; collected from 329 general practices) was conducted to determine the terms used. Manual searches were conducted on coded and on "free-text" or narrative information in the medical history, reason for encounter, and reason for prescription data fields. From this data set, 61 102 patients were potentially diagnosable with CKD on the basis of pathology results, but only 14 172 (23.2%) of these had a term representing CKD in their electronic record. Younger patients with pathology evidence of CKD were more likely to have documented CKD compared with older patients. There were a total of 2090 unique recorded documentation terms used by the GPs for CKD. The most commonly used terms tended to be those included as "pick-list" options within the various general practice software packages' standard "classifications," accounting for 84% of use. A diagnosis of CKD was often not documented and, when recorded, it was in a variety of ways. While recording CKD with various terms and in free-text fields may allow GPs to flexibly document disease qualifiers and enter patient specific information, it might inadvertently decrease the quality of data collected from general practice records for clinical audit or research purposes.

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