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J Trop Pediatr. 2014 Feb;60(1):74-8. doi: 10.1093/tropej/fmt059. Epub 2013 Jul 31.

Errors in filling WHO death certificate in children: lessons from 1251 death certificates.

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  • 1Department of Neonatology, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi 110002, India.


Our objective was to identify the frequency and types of various pediatric death certification errors. All available death certificates (n = 1424, from January to December 2005 and from January to July 2007) were retrieved from medical record library in a tertiary pediatric hospital. These were analyzed retrospectively (66%) and prospectively (34%) for the year 2005 and 2007, respectively. Only 11% of death certificates were filled accurately. In the remaining 89%, the total number of errors ranged from 0-5 per death certificate. The most common major and minor errors were "improper sequencing" (50.3%) and "absence of time interval" (74.7%), respectively. The combination of major and minor errors was observed in 51.9% of the certificates. The frequency of errors was significantly less in prospective data as compared with retrospective data (p < 0.05). Given the high rate of errors, there is an urgent need to design relevant training programs to streamline this dismal situation.


cause of death; death certificate; errors; pediatric death certification; pediatrics

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