Since 1999 the Societal Servizi Telematici (So.-Se.Te.) based in Padova has developed a national database, called PEDIANET, which currently collects the clinical, demographic and prescription data for approximately 60 000 children that have provided informed consent and who are under the care of any of the 84 primary care paediatricians (FP) that currently provide data to the database. Recruitment of paediatricians and the informed consent of patients is ongoing and the purpose is to include a total of 250 paediatricians (covering 250 000 children) by the end of 2001.

Data are generated during routine patient care with the software JB 95® and are stored in different files, which can be linked through a unique (anonymous) numerical identifier. The identification file contains information on the demographic data of the child and the eligibility status (registration status, date of registration, date of death). The prescription file contains information on all drugs (date of prescription, ATC code, product, quantity, dosing regimen, legend duration, indication, reimbursement status) and vaccinations that are prescribed by the paediatricians. Reasons for contact and diagnoses (free text or coded by the ICD-9 system) are collected in the medical file. In addition, the database contains information on referrals to specialists, procedures, hospitalisations, medical exams, health status (according to the Guidelines of Health Supervision of the American Academy of Paediatrics) and centile diagrams.

The database is suitable for both retrospective inspection of routinely collected data and for prospective data collection (outcomes, indirect costs of disease) (Menniti-Ippolito et at, 2000; Cantarutti et at., 2001). Data access is possible after approval of the protocol by the Scientific Board.

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