BookmarkSubscribeRSS Feed
Obsidian | Level 7

I am attempting to refine code written by a former colleague. I am attempting to combine imported datasets into one master dataset (previous data from previous data runs are needed for present and future data runs and I would like to create a large master file instead of my colleague having to import in multiple files from previous data runs). The issue is there are lots of empty cells and when this happens it seems that SAS will read them in as characters, but with the cells with data SAS reads them in as numbers, which is causing the following error messages. Is there a way to change the format in SAS I use SAS 9.4), or will I have to combine the data in excel (there are over 50 spreadsheets with 3 tabs each)  Here is the code below:


1261  data allmiss_hosp_info;

1262  set


1264  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_10NOV2021

1265  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_17NOV2021

1266  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_23NOV2021

1267  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_01DEC2021

1268  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_08DEC2021

1269  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_15DEC2021

1270  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx13

1271  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx14

1272  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx15

1273  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx16

1274  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx17

1275  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx18

1276  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx19

1277  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx20

1278  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx21

1279  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx22

1280  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx23

1281  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx24

1282  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx25

1283  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx26

1284  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx27

1285  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx28

1286  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx29

1287  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx30

1288  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx31

1289  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx32

1290  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx33

1291  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx34

1292  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx35

1293  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx36

1294  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx37

1295  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx38

1296  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx39

1297  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx40

1298  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx41

1299  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx42

1300  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx43

1301  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx44

1302  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx45

1303  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx46

1304  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx47

1305  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx48

1306  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx49

1307  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx50

1308  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx51

1309  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx52

1310  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx53

1311  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx54

1312  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx55

1313  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx56

1314  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx57

1315  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx58

1316  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx59

1317  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx60

1318  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx61

1319  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx62

1320  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx63

1321  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx64

1322  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx65

1323  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx66

1324  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx67

1325  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx68

1326  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx69

1327  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx70

1328  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx71

1329  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx72

1330  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx73

1331  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx74

1332  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx75

1333  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx76

1334  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx77

1335  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx78

1336  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx79

1337  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx80

1338  QA_Miss_Hosp_Info_Xx81;

ERROR: Variable IntubationDate has been defined as both character and numeric.

ERROR: Variable ExtubationDate has been defined as both character and numeric.

ERROR: Variable HospDtlICUAdmitDt has been defined as both character and numeric.

ERROR: Variable HospDtlICUDischDt has been defined as both character and numeric.

ERROR: Variable HospDtlIntub1StartDt has been defined as both character and numeric.

ERROR: Variable HospDtlIntub1EndDt has been defined as both character and numeric.

ERROR: Variable repeat has been defined as both character and numeric.

ERROR: Variable repeat has been defined as both character and numeric.

ERROR: Variable NoAdmitDate has been defined as both character and numeric.

Super User
Is the source file Excel or CSV?
You'll need to fix the import step to ensure they are all read in correctly.
Obsidian | Level 7

The source is excel, here is the code my former colleague wrote to import them in:


/*import data from excel that the team has reviewed to SAS dataset*/
%MACRO CheckExcel(ex=, tab=);
/*DATAFILE= "\\hospital patient data\Hosp_Death_Report\ team notes\&ex..xlsx"*/
DATAFILE= "\\hospital patient data\Hosp_Match\QA\Data\ team notes\&ex..xlsx"
%MEND CheckExcel;
%CheckExcel(ex=QA_ICU_Intub_X2_09SEP2021, tab=QA_IcuInt_09SEP2021);
%CheckExcel(ex=QA_ICU_Intub_X3_15SEP2021, tab=QA_IcuInt_15SEP2021);

Super User Tom
Super User

This is a known problem with trying to use a SPREADSHEET as a data source.  Spreadsheets are for doing adhoc calculations so therefore they allow any cell to contain any information.  A DATASET has variables, so every for every observation in the dataset the variable has to have the same type of value.  You should be able to find a gazillion questions on this forum from users asking how to "fix" the values imported from a spreadsheet.


So if you can modify the process to use some other file format (a delimited text file for example) then you will have more flexibility to read the data in using consist data structure.  With a text file you can write your own data step to read the file.


It looks like most of your problems are caused by empty columns.  When PROC IMPORT sees an empty column in it creates it as a character variable of length 1  since it will require 7 fewer bytes than it takes to store the 64-bit binary values SAS uses for numbers.  You might want to see if some of the solutions on this site for dropping empty variables help you.


Is this a one time need to combine these datasets? If so just figure out which datasets have the variables with the wrong type and use dataset options to either remove them or rename them so you do not get errors.


Or do you need something that will adjust to the next crazy spreadsheet you have to read? In that case you need some idea of what structure you want to create.  Then you can compare the structure that PROC IMPORT created and make code to fix it.

Obsidian | Level 7

The previous datasets will only need to be combined into a master file once, what my plan is, is to save this as a SAS dataset so that I don't have the issues that exist with excel. Then each week new data will be added to the master file (but this data will be created wholly within SAS). 



Registration is open! SAS is returning to Vegas for an AI and analytics experience like no other! Whether you're an executive, manager, end user or SAS partner, SAS Innovate is designed for everyone on your team. Register for just $495 by 12/31/2023.

If you are interested in speaking, there is still time to submit a session idea. More details are posted on the website. 

Register now!

How to Concatenate Values

Learn how use the CAT functions in SAS to join values from multiple variables into a single value.

Find more tutorials on the SAS Users YouTube channel.

Get the $99 certification deal.jpg



Back in the Classroom!

Select SAS Training centers are offering in-person courses. View upcoming courses for:

View all other training opportunities.

Discussion stats
  • 5 replies
  • 4 in conversation