Background Case mix index (CMI) is calculated to determine the relative value assigned to a Diagnosis-Related Group. Accurate documentation of patient complications and comorbidities and major complications and comorbidities changes CMI and can affect hospital reimbursement and future pay for performance metrics. Study Design Starting in 2010, a physician panel concurrently reviewed the documentation of the trauma/acute care surgeons. Clarifications of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services term-specific documentation were made by the panel, and the surgeon could incorporate or decline the clinical queries. A retrospective review of trauma/acute care inpatients was performed. The mean severity of illness, risk of mortality, and CMI from 2009 were compared with the 3 subsequent years. Mean length of stay and mean Injury Severity Score by year were listed as measures of patient acuity. Statistical analysis was performed using ANOVA and t-test, with p < 0.05 for significance. Results Each year demonstrated an increase in severity of illness, risk of mortality, and CMI compared with baseline values (p < 0.05). Length of stay was not significantly different, reflecting similar patient populations throughout the study. Injury Severity Score decreased in 2011 and 2012 compared with 2009, reflecting a lower level of injury in the trauma population. Conclusions A concurrent documentation review significantly increases severity of illness, risk of mortality, and CMI scores in a trauma/acute care service compared with pre-program levels. These changes reflect more accurate key word documentation rather than a change in patient acuity. The increased scores might impact hospital reimbursement and more accurately stratify outcomes measures for care providers.
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