Evaluating Data Quality of Electronic Blood Lead Testing Results

Lead is highly toxic to humans; even small amounts are known to have serious health effects. Since lead exposure often has no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized and therefore periodic blood lead testing is recommended among children <6 years living in housing with potential exposure to lead.  Timely and accurate blood lead testing results are not only important for ensuring that patients receive appropriate follow-up care, but are also vital to public health surveillance activities aimed at identifying at-risk groups for which interventions are needed.   

In Michigan, laboratories are required to report all blood lead test results within 5 days to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP).  These data are uploaded into the MDHHS Data Warehouse which is accessed by the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR), the Healthy Homes Lead Poisoning Surveillance System (HHLPSS), as well other programs.  Recently, the MDHHS initiated efforts to improve the electronic reporting of data from laboratory reporting (ELR) systems through real-time interoperability via HL7 messaging.

The objective of this project is to conduct an evaluation of data quality for blood lead testing results related to HL7 messaging adoption by ELR systems.  Our aim is to assess the timeliness, completeness and accuracy of blood lead data before and after adoption of HL7 messaging.  In doing so, we will also evaluate the existing flow of blood lead testing information to identify potential opportunities for improvement.

Building upon methods used to evaluate HL7 messaging adoption by MCIR, we will assess blood lead data reported by laboratories, local health departments, and primary care practices throughout Michigan.  We will use data obtained from the MDHHS Data Warehouse and MCIR databases to assess the degree to which the timeliness, completeness and accuracy of blood lead data may have changed.   We will also work with blood lead testing sites as well as practices that utilize blood lead screening data to identify opportunities for improvement.

For more information, please contact:
Kevin J. Dombkowski, DrPH, MS
University of Michigan
Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Center
300 North Ingalls Building, Room 6D05
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5456
Telephone: (734) 615-6758 
Email: kjd[at]med.umich[dot]edu