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Hospital Data Released by AHCPR

Press Release Date: August 17, 1995

The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) today announced the first release of data from its new Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS Release 1)—a powerful source of highly detailed information on patient care and hospital performance in U.S. community hospitals between 1988 and 1992. These data have been translated into a uniform format and are available in CD-ROM and datatape versions. As a whole, NIS and its companion State Inpatient Database (SID) cover almost half of all hospital discharges in the Nation, and can be used by a wide array of researchers working in both the private and public sectors.

These two data bases were developed as part of AHCPR's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP-3) through a public-private partnership with State governments and private-sector organizations, such as the American Hospital Association and State hospital associations.

AHCPR's main role is to provide the public with scientifically sound information that can be used to improve health care. HCUP-3 is a prime example of this," said AHCPR Administrator Clifton R. Gaus, Sc.D. According to Dr. Gaus, the data bases should prove useful to an array of clients, including hospital and nursing home chains, managed care corporations, business coalitions, hospital consultants, and labor unions. HCUP-3 data can be used, for example, to study the use and costs of hospital services, health care cost inflation, the impact of proposed legislation on cost containment, the effectiveness of medical treatments, diffusion of medical technologies, and medical practice variation.

To protect the privacy of such detailed information, the NIS database excludes data elements that could directly or indirectly identify individual patients or physicians. Both NIS Release 1 and the SID database contain patient-level variables included in a typical hospital discharge abstract. Users can link both databases directly to hospital-level data from the Annual Survey of the American Hospital Association. NIS Release 1 contains records for all hospital stays from a 20-percent sample of community hospitals drawn from 11 States. Each year of data contains five to six million records and about 900 hospitals. More States and years of data may be added later.

The SID database contains uniform data on inpatient stays in all community hospitals in 12 States—Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin—from 1988 to 1992. Examples of studies where SID data could prove useful include research on hospital market areas, access to care, small-area variations, and the effects of competition on hospital outcomes and behavior.

SID data are available by purchase from the participating States. NIS Release 1 is available by purchase from the National Technical Information Service, 5285 Port Royal Road, Springfield, VA 22161; phone: (703) 487-4650. For more information on both databases, contact AHCPR's Center for Delivery Systems Research by E-mail (

NIS Release 1, which covers 1988 to 1992 and is available for each year, comes in ASCII format on a CD-ROM set ($300 for 5 years of data) or in EBCDIC or SAS transport format datatapes ($800 per year of data).

For additional information, contact AHCPR Public Affairs: Karen Migdail, (301) 427-1855.

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