WSHA data analysis offers insight into diagnostic excellence in spinal cord compression

February 14, 2024

WSHA’s data analytics team studied spinal cord compression for its February analysis of the month because identifying and diagnosing this issue early could prevent patients from having major disabilities later.

Back pain is non-specific and a common patient complaint in many health care settings. Many acute back pain episodes are self-limiting. Spinal cord compression (SCC) can result from numerous atraumatic and traumatic causes. Spinal cord compression can occur from a wide range of underlying conditions. Additionally, there is significant overlap between signs and symptoms of back pain and risk for SCC. There is also broad differential diagnosis to SCC.

The Data Analytics team pulled ED visits from January 2022 to September 2023 from Washington State Hospital Discharge Dataset that had a subsequent acute inpatient stay within 30 days of the patient’s initial ED visit. We filtered the acute inpatient claims to only patients who have a diagnosis code of a SCC.

Then, we looked back at the ED visits to see what diagnoses were present on the ED visit. If the ED visit had at least one of the possible SCC diagnoses, then we consider that to be “identified.” Otherwise, it was “not identified.”

In total, we have 4,447 ED visits in this dataset. Overall, we saw a 64.5% identification rate for those visits. This is a limited dataset compared to the total number of ED visits in the state annually, so we invite leaders to reach out with questions or methodologies that would allow us to study the issue further.

For the full report, please click here.

This analysis, along with many other in-depth data sets, is available to DASH premium subscribers.  These are topics WSHA plans to continue monitoring using our Washington State Hospital Discharge Dataset and DASH/DASH Premium products. For more dashboards and ad-hoc explorers, please visit DASH and DASH Premium on If you would like to learn more about DASH Premium, please contact Ed Phippen at or (206) 216-2556.


Danny Lunder

Senior Data Analyst


Contact Us

Washington State Hospital Association
999 Third Avenue
Suite 1400
Seattle, WA 98104

Map / Directions

206.281.7211 phone
206.283.6122 fax

Staff List