Developing a cancer-specific trigger tool to identify treatment-related adverse events using administrative data.

As there are few validated tools to identify treatment-related adverse events across cancer care settings, we sought to develop oncology-specific "triggers" to flag potential adverse events among cancer patients using claims data.

322 887 adult patients undergoing an initial course of cancer-directed therapy for breast, colorectal, lung, or prostate cancer from 2008 to 2014 were drawn from a large commercial claims database. We defined 16 oncology-specific triggers using diagnosis and procedure codes. To distinguish treatment-related complications from comorbidities, we required a logical and temporal relationship between a treatment and the associated trigger. We tabulated the prevalence of triggers by cancer type and metastatic status during 1-year of follow-up, and examined cancer trigger risk factors.

Cancer-specific trigger events affected 19% of patients over the initial treatment year. The trigger burden varied by disease and metastatic status, from 6% of patients with nonmetastatic prostate cancer to 41% and 50% of those with metastatic colorectal and lung cancers, respectively. The most prevalent triggers were abnormal serum bicarbonate, blood transfusion, non-contrast chest CT scan following radiation therapy, and hypoxemia. Among patients with metastatic disease, 10% had one trigger event and 29% had two or more. Triggers were more common among older patients, women, non-whites, patients with low family incomes, and those without a college education.

Oncology-specific triggers offer a promising method for identifying potential patient safety events among patients across cancer care settings.

Cancer medicine. 2020 Jan 03 [Epub ahead of print]

Saul N Weingart, Jason Nelson, Benjamin Koethe, Omar Yaghi, Stephan Dunning, Albert Feldman, David Kent, Allison Lipitz-Snyderman

Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA., Predictive Analytics and Comparative Effectiveness Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA., OptumLabs, Cambridge, MA, USA., Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA.