Improving the collection and quality of race and ethnicity reported in hospital data is a key step in identifying disparities in health service utilization and outcomes and opportunities for quality improvement.
The objective of this study was to assess the quality of race/ethnicity reported in hospital discharge data and examine the impact on the identification of disparities in select health outcomes in New York City.
Using the birth certificate as a gold standard, we examined the quality of hospital discharge race/ethnicity and estimated the impact of misclassification on racial/ethnic disparities in severe maternal morbidity and preventable hospitalizations.
Delivery hospitalizations from the New York State hospital discharge data (Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System) linked with 2015 New York City birth certificates.
Sensitivity and positive predictive value (PPV).
The non-Hispanic white and black race had relatively high sensitivity and PPV. Hispanic ethnicity and Asian race had moderate sensitivity and high PPV, but were often misclassified as “Other.” As a result, health disparities may be underestimated for those of Hispanic ethnicity and Asian race, particularly for indicators that use population denominators drawn from another source.
The quality of hospital discharge data varies by race/ethnicity and may underestimate disparities in some groups. Future research should validate findings with other data sources, identify driving factors, and evaluate progress over time.