Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Andy's Data Blog: Random musings from a data nerd

“The fall is cool and full of missing variables: data entry from the perspective of parallel Jo(h)n Snows.”

by CFPS Epi, Andy Woster

Being a Child Fatality Prevention System epidemiologist can sometimes be a lonely undertaking. Like  Cub or Girl Scouts yearning to stitch on those camping or “Cookie CEO” badges, CFPS epis pour over the data from January through July, variable by variable, sleuthing for that one nugget that will complete their metamorphosis into a modern day Jo(h)n Snow. While not preparing for the “coming winter” or mapping out Broad St. water supplies, CFPS epidemiologists do have the potential to change the narrative, battling incomplete SUIDIRF utilization with the kind of fury generally reserved for White Walkers and pump handles.

Now, however, it is August and the life of a CFPS epi is not nearly as romantic. The end of the data year will be upon us in just over 4 short months and if the speed of the summer is any indication it will be December 31, 2016, in just about a week. That date is important because it is the date by which all 2015 CFPS cases must be reviewed and entered into the National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention Case Reporting System. This also means that over the next few months, I will quickly become your arch-nemesis (or best friend; it’s all about perception, right?), reviewing all of your cases and contacting you when I come across inconsistencies or missing information. Though there are always many tasks competing for your attention, this necessary process ensures that we have captured the most consistent and complete case information possible to inform our analysis and prevention efforts.

In order to keep the peace, there are a handful of things that you can do.
1.       First, ensure that your death certificate numbers are entered into the case definition page of case reporting system. This small step helps me identify that you’ve started the review.
2.       Next, make sure that you’ve entered the date of death, child’s age, and state of residence. Keep in mind that entering any other residence information in section A creates the potential for a breach of confidentiality. This is not something we like in CFPS!
3.       Finally, make sure, if the case review is complete, that you’ve checked the box in Section L indicating that the child death review (CDR) is complete. If the review is complete and the data entry is complete, check the box in Section O indicating data entry is completed for this case.

Completing these small steps will let me know that your case is ready for review and prevent additional unnecessary contacts from me.

So, just as cartography skills end epidemics and disprove miasma theory and Dragonglass expunges White Walkers and forestalls the coming winter, proper data entry and cooperation with your CFPS epi increases the likelihood of saving lives. Together we can improve the quality of CFPS data and win the battle for case completion! When your CFPS epi calls on you this fall, will you answer?  

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