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Rating Long-Term Care Facilities on Pressure Ulcer Development: Importance of Case-Mix Adjustment

Dan R. Berlowitz, MD, MPH; Arlene S. Ash, PhD; Gary H. Brandeis, MD; Harriet K. Brand, MPH; Jay L. Halpern, MS; Mark A. Moskowitz, MD; and Jack M. Gwaltney Jr., MD
[+] Article and Author Information

From the Bedford Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Bedford, Massachusetts; Boston University Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts; and the Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, D.C. Grant Support: By the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development grant #92-053. Dr. Berlowitz was supported by an Health Services Research and Development Career Development Award, and Dr. Brandeis is supported by a National Institutes of Aging Clinical Investigator Award. Requests for Reprints: Dan R. Berlowitz, MD, MPH, Health Services Research and Development Field Program, Bedford Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 200 Springs Road, Bedford, MA 01730. Current Author Addresses: Drs. Berlowitz and Brandeis and Ms. Brand: Bedford Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 200 Springs Road, Bedford, MA 01730.


Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1996;124(6):557-563. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-124-6-199603150-00003
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Objective: To determine the importance of case-mix adjustment in interpreting differences in rates of pressure ulcer development in Department of Veterans Affairs long-term care facilities.

Design: A sample assembled from the Patient Assessment File, a Veterans Affairs administrative database, was used to derive predictors of pressure ulcer development; the resulting model was validated in a separate sample. Facility-level rates of pressure ulcer development, both unadjusted and adjusted for case mix using the predictive model, were compared.

Setting: Department of Veterans Affairs long-term care facilities.

Patients: The derivation sample consisted of 31 150 intermediate medicine and nursing home residents who were initially free of pressure ulcers and were institutionalized between October 1991 and April 1993. The validation sample consisted of 17 946 residents institutionalized from April 1993 to October 1993.

Measurement: Development of a stage 2 or greater pressure ulcer.

Results: 11 factors predicted pressure ulcer development. Validated performance properties of the resulting model were good. Model-predicted rates of pressure ulcer development at individual long-term care facilities varied from 1.9% to 6.3%, and observed rates ranged from 0% to 10.9%. Case-mix-adjusted rates and ranks of facilities differed considerably from unadjusted ratings. For example, among five facilities that were identified as high outliers on the basis of unadjusted rates, two remained as outliers after adjustment for case mix.

Conclusions: Long-term care facilities differ in case mix. Adjustments for case mix result in different judgments about facility performance and should be used when facility incidence rates are compared.

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