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Title The Reliability of Hand-written and Computerised Records of Birth Data Collected at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto
Author(s) GTH Ellison; LM Richter; T de Wet; HE Harris; RD Griesel; JA McIntyre
Source Curiationis, Vol. 20, No. 1, Pages 36-40
Publication Date March, 1997
Abstract This study examined the reliability of hand written and computerised records of birth data collected during the Birth to Ten study at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. The reliability of record-keeping in hand-written obstetric and neonatal files was assessed by comparing duplicate records of six different variables abstracted from six different sections in these files. The reliability of computerised record keeping was assessed by comparing the original hand-written record of each variable with records contained in the hospital's computerised database. These data sets displayed similar levels of reliability which suggests that similar errors occurred when data were transcribed from one section of the files to the next, and from these files to the computerised database. In both sets of records reliability was highest for the categorical variable infant sex, and for those continuous variables (such as maternal age and gravidity) recorded with unambiguous units. Reliability was lower for continuous variables that could be recorded with different levels of precision (such as birth weight), those that were occasionally measured more than once, and those that could be measured using more than one measurement technique (such as gestational age). Reducing the number of times records are transcribed, categorising continuous variables, and standardising the techniques used for measuring and recording variables would improve the reliability of both hand-written and computerised data sets.

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