Public Use File (PUF) Requests


The California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) currently provides public data sets for the years 2010-2014 of patient discharge (PDD), emergency department (ED), and ambulatory surgery (AS) data collected from licensed California hospitals, hospital emergency departments, and licensed freestanding ambulatory surgery clinics in California. Each record within the data sets consists of either one inpatient discharge, or one outpatient encounter, also known as a service visit. Data included in the public data sets includes clinical, payer, and facility information. You may be eligible to request some types of non-public patient data from OSHPD; please see Requesting OSHPD Patient Data Files for information on your eligibility. University-sponsored researchers, California-licensed hospitals and California local health officers and local health departments may request non-public data.

Data Availability and Ordering Instructions

  1. Review file documentation and read the What’s New notes. Does the data set meet your analytical needs?
  2. Submit a complete Public Use File Request Form.
    Submit the signed form to the Healthcare Information Resource Center (HIRC) via fax (916) 324-9242 or HIRC E-mail.
  3. Complimentary Data - If your organization is a federal, state, city, or county government agency, nonprofit organization with 501(c)(3) status, nonprofit educational institution or public library, you may qualify for the most recent three years of data complimentary.
    Requests for complimentary data must:
    • Be submitted on official letterhead
    • Be signed by the director of the organization or chair of the department
    • Specifically identify the data product needed
    • State the anticipated use of the data
    • Include a copy of the official IRS document indicating the organization has a nonprofit 501(c)(3) status if applicable
    Please see the Office's Pricing Policy for more information.

  4. You will be contacted about payment and shipping options.

What's New

Revisions to the Public Use File to Protect Patient Confidentiality

Beginning in 2013, with the release of 2012 data, the Public Use File has been modified to protect patient confidentiality and minimize the risk of disclosure of confidential patient data while preserving most of the file’s clinical information.

This has resulted in significant changes to the patient record-level data files. For the PDD, ED and AS, the 5-digit Patient ZIP Code was replaced with a 3-digit Patient ZIP Code.  In addition, for the PDD Total Charges was rounded to the nearest $1000; note that Total Charges is not collected for the ED and AS. Lastly, demographic and date variables that were included in the public use files have been removed from the new versions:

  • Admission Quarter and Service Quarter
  • Admission Year or Service Year
  • Age Range (20 categories)
  • Age Range (5 categories)
  • Ethnicity
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Patient County
  • Age in Years (at Admission or Date of Service)
  • Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) - on PDD only
  • Expected Source of Payment – Plan Code Number

A masking rule was applied to remove disclosure risk from unique Principal Diagnoses, Principal Procedures and Principal E-Codes.  First, these codes were examined for any single occurrence for each hospital. If, for a given hospital, a single instance of either a Principal Diagnosis or Principal Procedure were found, the Principal codes were preserved, but all E-Codes and secondary diagnoses and related variables, and secondary procedures and related variables in the record were masked (*). If, for the given hospital, a single instance of a Principal E-Code were found, all E-Codes and E-Code Present on Admission (POA) variables on the record were masked (*).

For each record that is the only record for a facility for a report year, all data elements other than Hospital ID, Hospital Name, and Discharge Year were masked (*).


Data Set Cost
  • 1. How much does the Public Use File cost?
    $200 per year for each type of data (PDD, ED, AS). Nonprofit entities may be eligible to get the current three years for free.
  • 2. What are the qualifications for complimentary data?
    For organizations that are nonprofits (per Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code), the three most recent years of data may be provided at no charge. This includes California-licensed hospitals. Similarly, California state and local governments may request the data at no charge
Data Set Shipping
Data Set Availability
Data Set Content
  • 6. What is the difference between PDD, AS, and ED Public Use Files (PUF)?
    The PDD, ED and AS data files represent data submissions from different types of California provider organizations. Patient discharge data is submitted to OSHPD by hospitals, emergency department data is submitted by hospital emergency departments, and ambulatory surgery (general acute care, acute psychiatric, chemical dependency recovery, and psychiatric health facilities) data is submitted by general acute care hospitals and licensed freestanding ambulatory surgery clinics.
  • 7. Does the PUF contain demographic variables (age, gender, race, ethnicity, etc.)?
    No, however, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), as part of its Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), makes available de-identified files from the OSHPD patient-level data sets that have been statistically manipulated to render them un-linkable to other OSHPD patient-level datasets.  Geographical identifiers (ZIP Code and county) have been removed from these files, but not demographic identifiers.  Access to these files requires signing a detailed data use agreement and taking a short online training course on data use.  More information and application kits are available at the HCUP Central Distributor Technical Assistance Center.
  • 8. Does the PUF contain financial data?
    No, not to any significant degree. The PDD contains a Total Charges variable, but the ED and AS contain no financial data. However, detailed facility-level financial and utilization data are freely available for hospitals and other healthcare facilities on the OHSPD Web site. Specifically, the Hospital Annual Financial Disclosure Reports and the Long Term Care Annual Financial Disclosure Reports provide very detailed account-level information for these facilities. Quarterly Financial and Utilization reports provide additional information. Please see the OSHPD Hospital Financial Data and Hospital Utilization webpages.
Geographic Data
Sharing the Public Use File
  • 12. Can I show the PUF to my co-workers/affiliates or is this strictly for my own use?
    The PUF Data Use Agreement specifies:

    In accessing patient level data, I agree to the following:

    • I will not further distribute any patient-level data or individual patient records, and I will not permit others to do so.
    • I will not use or permit others to use the data to learn the identity of any individual patient.
    • I will not link or permit others to link the data with any other individual level data that would increase the potential for patient identification.
Confidential Data Set Eligibility
Data Set Format

This page was last updated on Wednesday, March 28, 2018.

Data Years Available
PUF 2010-2014 2010-2014
AB 2876 1983-2016 2005-2016
IPA 1983-2016 2005-2016
Custom 1983-2016 2005-2016

Contact Us

Healthcare Information Resource Center
2020 West El Camino Avenue, Suite 1100
Sacramento, CA 95833
Tel: (916) 326-3802
Fax: (916) 324-9242
Hours: Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PST)
E-mail HIRC