Performance of comprehensive risk adjustment for the prediction of in-hospital events using administrative healthcare data: The queralt indices

David Monterde, Miguel Cainzos-Achirica, Yolima Cossio-Gil, Luis García-Eroles, Pol Pérez-Sust, Miquel Arrufat, Candela Calle, Josep Comin-Colet, César Velasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Accurate risk adjustment is crucial for healthcare management and benchmarking. Purpose: We aimed to compare the performance of classic comorbidity functions (Charlson’s and Elixhauser’s), of the All Patients Refined Diagnosis Related Groups (APR-DRG), and of the Queralt Indices, a family of novel, comprehensive comorbidity indices for the prediction of key clinical outcomes in hospitalized patients. Material and Methods: We conducted an observational, retrospective cohort study using administrative healthcare data from 156,459 hospital discharges in Catalonia (Spain) during 2018. Study outcomes were in-hospital death, long hospital stay, and intensive care unit (ICU) stay. We evaluated the performance of the following indices: Charlson’s and Elixhauser’s functions, Queralt’s Index for secondary hospital discharge diagnoses (Queralt DxS), the overall Queralt’s Index, which includes pre-existing comorbidities, in-hospital complications, and principal discharge diagnosis (Queralt Dx), and the APR-DRG. Discriminative ability was evaluated using the area under the curve (AUC), and measures of goodness of fit were also computed. Subgroup analyses were conducted by principal discharge diagnosis, by age, and type of admission. Results: Queralt DxS provided relevant risk adjustment information in a larger number of patients compared to Charlson’s and Elixhauser’s functions, and outperformed both for the prediction of the 3 study outcomes. Queralt Dx also outperformed Charlson’s and Elixhauser’s indices, and yielded superior predictive ability and goodness of fit compared to APR-DRG (AUC for in-hospital death 0.95 for Queralt Dx, 0.77–0.93 for all other indices; for ICU stay 0.84 for Queralt Dx, 0.73–0.83 for all other indices). The performance of Queralt DxS was at least as good as that of the APR-DRG in most principal discharge diagnosis subgroups. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that risk adjustment should go beyond pre-existing comorbidities and include principal discharge diagnoses and in-hospital complications. Validation of comprehensive risk adjustment tools such as the Queralt indices in other settings is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-283
Number of pages13
JournalRisk Management and Healthcare Policy
StatePublished - 2020


  • Benchmarking
  • Case-mix
  • Comorbidity
  • Discrimination
  • Multimorbidity
  • Queralt’s indices
  • Risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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