A systematic review of validated methods for identifying venous thromboembolism using administrative and claims data

Leonardo Tamariz, Thomas Harkins, Vinit Nair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

90 Scopus citations


Background: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a serious complication. Large claims databases can potentially identify the effects that medications have on VTE. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the evidence supporting the validity of VTE codes. Methods: A search of MEDLINE database is supplemented by manual searches of bibliographies of key relevant articles. We selected all studies in which a claim code was validated against a medical record. We reported the positive predictive value (PPV) for the VTE claim compared to the medical record. Results: Our search strategy yielded 345 studies, of which only 19 met our eligibility criteria. All of the studies reported on ICD-9 codes, but only two studies reported on pharmacy codes, and one study reported on procedure codes. The highest PPV (65%-95%) was reported for the combined use of ICD-9 codes 415 (pulmonary embolism), 451, and 453 (deep vein thrombosis) as a VTE event. If a specific event like DVT (PPV 24%-92%) or PE (PPV 31%-97%) was evaluated, the PPV was lower than when the combined events were examined. Studies that included patients after orthopedic surgery reported the highest PPV (96%-100%). Conclusions: The use of ICD-9 415, 451, and 453 are appropriate for the identification of VTE in claims databases. The codes performed best when codes were evaluated in patients at higher risk of VTE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-162
Number of pages9
JournalPharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012



  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Validity
  • Venous thromboembolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Epidemiology

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