National Hospital Discharge Survey, 1988 (ICPSR 9521)

Principal Investigator(s): United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Center for Health Statistics


The 1988 National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS), which is part of a continuing sample of hospital discharge records, provides medical and demographic information used to calculate statistics on hospital utilization. This survey consists of data abstracted from the face sheets of medical records for sampled inpatients discharged from a national sample of nonfederal short-stay hospitals. The variables include information on the patient's demographic characteristics (sex, age, date of birth, race, marital status), dates of admission and discharge, status at discharge, diagnoses, procedures performed, and source of payment. Information on hospital characteristics, such as bedsize, ownership, and region of the country, is also included.

Series: National Hospital Discharge Survey Series

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Study Description


U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics. NATIONAL HOSPITAL DISCHARGE SURVEY, 1988. Hyattsville, MD: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics [producer], 1988. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1991.

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Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    demographic characteristics, health care facilities, hospitalization, hospitals, illness, medical care, medical evaluation, medical procedures, medical records, patients, payment methods, treatment

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 1988

Date of Collection:   

  • 1988

Universe:    Patient discharges from noninstitutional hospitals (excluding federal, military and Veterans Administrative hospitals) located in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Only short-stay hospitals (hospitals with an average length of stay for all patients of less than 30 days) or those whose specialty is general (medical or surgical) or children's general are included in the survey. These hospitals must also have six or more beds staffed for patient use. For 1988, the NHDS universe consisted of eligible hospitals that began accepting inpatients before September 1, 1987, and were listed in the April 1987 SMG Hospital Market Data Tape (SMG Marketing Group, Inc., Chicago, IL).

Data Type(s):    administrative records data, clinical data, medical records, survey data

Data Collection Notes:

Per agreement with NCHS, ICPSR distributes the data file(s) and technical documentation in this collection in their original form as prepared by NCHS. In 1988, the NHDS was redesigned to provide geographic sampling comparability with other surveys conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), to update the sample of hospitals selected into the survey, and to maximize the use of data collected through automated systems. The data contain ampersands (&), dashes (-), and blanks


Sample:    The redesigned 1988 NHDS sample included with certainty all hospitals with 1,000 or more beds or 40,000 or more discharges annually. The remaining sample of hospitals is based on a stratified three-stage design. The first stage consists of selection of 112 primary sampling units (PSUs) that comprise a probability subsample of PSUs used in the 1985-1994 National Health Interview Surveys. The second stage consists of selection of non-certainty hospitals from the sample PSUs. At the third stage a sample of discharges was selected by a systematic random sampling technique. Of the 542 hospitals in the sample, 422 were in scope and agreed to participate.

Data Source:

official hospital records and data tapes purchased from abstracter services

Restrictions: In preparing the data tape(s) for this collection, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has removed direct indentifiers and characteristics that might lead to identification of data subjects. As an additional precaution, NCHS requires, under section 308(d) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 242m), that data collected by NCHS not be used for any purpose other than statistical analysis and reporting. NCHS further requires that analysts not use the data to learn the identity of any persons or establishments and that the director of NCHS be notified if any identities are inadvertently discovered. ICPSR member institutions and other users ordering data from ICPSR are expected to adhere to these restrictions.


Original ICPSR Release:   1991-05-03

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