Data cleaning is the process of detecting and correcting inaccurate data from your patient records. It is the overall process that should be used to ensure the data is correct, consistent, and usable. Data cleaning starts with understanding your data, where it comes from, and what it says. The trauma registry should have a consistent data cleaning process which marks the “closing” of a month.
There are many different benefits to having a solid data cleaning process for your trauma program. First, this process removes major errors and inconsistencies in your data. These inconsistencies will cause you to be high (or potentially low) outliers in your benchmarking reports. Second, ensuring a data cleaning process for monthly closure will make everyone on your team more efficient. The errors identified through data validation and data cleaning will increase the working knowledge and the interrater reliability of your trauma registrars. Third, as the interrater reliability increases, and data errors decrease, the reliability of your internal and external reports increases. This will give a new level of confidence to the trauma team as they review your benchmarking reports, and evaluate their care provided.
There are basically five steps in data cleaning.