Definition Series: What is Data Integrity?

The first step of understanding Data Integrity and its importance is to define Data and how it applies surgical operations. Data is information in the form of quantities, characters, or symbols on which operations are performed. For example, all the information on your Count Sheets used to assemble instrument trays is data (manufacturer name, catalog number, description, quantity). Take your Item Master as another example -- every bit of information about your inventory is data (tray name, quantity, location, specialty, department, etc). Under both examples, your Count Sheets and Item Master contains a ton of data, or information in the form of quantities, characters, or symbols on which operations are performed. 

Data Integrity refers to the accuracy of information communicated by your systems (e.g. Count Sheets, Item Master, Preference Cards, etc.). If the information communicated by your systems is 100% accurate- congratulations, you have achieved 100% Data Integrity! Conversely, if the information communicated by your system is not accurate, then Data Integrity has not been achieved. Measuring Data Integrity is simple. Have you ever assembled an instrument tray and the count sheet is missing a part number, suppliers, or has vague or incorrect descriptions? Do you ever check inventory to make sure you have enough for cases but have a hard time trusting the information? If you answered “yes”, it means you have not achieved Data Integrity.  

Achieving 100% Data Integrity is crucial because it’s the foundation for which operations are performed and decisions are made. If a count sheet is missing part numbers or has vague and incorrect descriptions, the foundation to assemble an accurate instrument tray is broken leading to inconsistencies and inaccuracies surfacing in the Operating Room. If you can’t trust your inventory quantities, it will likely lead to conflicts with having trays ready for patients. Regardless of the current state of your data today, don’t underestimate the massive potential that achieving 100% Data Integrity can have on streamlining surgical preparation and improving quality.  

Greer Chambers