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NASS Description of Data Elements
The Nationwide Ambulatory Surgery Sample (NASS) is a set of ambulatory surgery databases included in the HCUP family. These databases are created by AHRQ through a Federal-State-Industry partnership.
 
TOTCHG - Total charges, cleaned
 
Documentation Sections:
General Notes
Uniform Values
General Notes
 

TOTCHG contains the edited total charges. The original value provided by the data source is retained in the data element TOTCHG_X. How total charges are edited depends on the year of the data.

Beginning in the 1998 HCUP databases, the following edits are applied to total charges (TOTCHG):

  • Values are rounded to the nearest dollar; and
  • Zero charges are set to missing (.);
  • If total charges are excessively low (ETCHG01) or high (ETCHG02), then TOTCHG is set to inconsistent (.C). The limits for excessively low and high total charges vary for inpatient and outpatient databases.
    • For inpatient data, the allowable values for total charges vary by year: total charges are allowed to be between $25 and $1.0 million, inclusive in 1998 to 2006; between $100 and $1.5 million, inclusive, in 2007 to 2010; between $100 and $5.0 million beginning in 2011 data; and between $100 and $10.0 million beginning in 2016 data.
    • For outpatient data, the allowable values for total charges vary by year: total charges are allowed to be between $25 and $50,000, inclusive, in 1998 to 2006; between $100 and $75,000, inclusive, in 2007 to 2010; and between $100 and $950,000 beginning in 2011 data.

In the 1988-1997 HCUP databases, the following edits are applied to total charges (TOTCHG):

  • Values are rounded to the nearest dollar; and
  • Zero charges are set to missing (.);
  • Negative charges are set to invalid (.A); and
  • For HCUP inpatient databases, if charges per day (TOTCHG/LOS) are unjustifiably low (ED911) or high (ED921), then TOTCHG is set to inconsistent (.C).
  • For HCUP outpatient databases, if total charges are excessively low (ED912) or high (ED922), then TOTCHG is set to inconsistent (.C). (SASD)

Generally, total charges (TOTCHG and TOTCHG_X) do not include professional fees and non-covered charges. If the source provides total charges with professional fees, then the professional fees are removed from the charge during HCUP processing. In a small number of HCUP databases, professional fees cannot be removed from total charges because the data source cannot provide the information. Please check the state-specific notes for information on which states are affected.

 
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Uniform Values
VariableDescriptionValueValue Description
TOTCHGTotal charges, cleanedDollarsTotal Charge rounded
.Missing
.AInvalid
.BUnavailable from source (coded in 1988-1997 data only)
.CInconsistent: beginning with 1998 data, ETCHG01, ETCHG02; in 1998-1997 data, ED911, ED912, ED921, ED922
 
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Internet Citation: HCUP NASS Description of Data Elements. Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP). August 2019. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/db/vars/totchg/nassnote.jsp.
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Last modified 8/14/19