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J Paediatr Child Health. 2000 Oct;36(5):498-501.

Errors in the certification of neonatal death.

Author information

  • 1The New Children's Hospital, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To examine the precision of the perinatal death certificate (PDC) and ascertain the possible sources of error in the certification of neonatal deaths.

METHODS:

The 'Main' and 'Other' causes of death recorded on the PDC were obtained from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages and compared with those from a clinicopathological summary (CPS) completed after all pending laboratory results and/or autopsy information were available.

RESULTS:

There were 179 neonatal deaths during the 7 year period under review. The PDC and CPS main causes of death were concordant in 103 of 179 infants (58%) and discordant in the remaining 76 infants (42%). The PDC main cause of death was incorrectly classified in 61 of 76 infants (80%) with discordant findings and was incompletely classified in the remaining 15 infants (20%). The following discordancies were recorded for the 61 infants with an incorrect classification: (i) transposition of the 'Main' and 'Other' causes of death, resulting in a sequencing discordancy in 14 infants (23%); (ii) recording a non-pathological condition as the main cause of death in 40 infants (66%); and (iii) recording an incorrect pathological condition as the main cause of death in seven infants (11%). Eight of the 61 (13%) incorrect classifications and four of the 15 (27%) incomplete classifications were associated with laboratory and/or autopsy data being unavailable when the PDC was completed.

CONCLUSIONS:

The concordancy between the PDC and CPS would have increased from 58 to 91% if the 'Main' and 'Other' causes of death had been sequenced correctly, if the main cause of death had been ascribed to a pathological disease rather than a non-pathological condition and if corrective information from pending laboratory tests and/or autopsy examination had been made available to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

PMID:
11036809
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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