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J Forensic Sci. 2017 Sep;62(5):1326-1331. doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.13437. Epub 2017 Jun 20.

Benford's Law for Quality Assurance of Manner of Death Counts in Small and Large Databases.

Author information

1
Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University Health Network, University of Toronto, 200 Elizabeth St, Toronto, ON, Canada.
2
Mathematics and Statistics, McMaster University, 1200 Main St W, Hamilton, ON, Canada.
3
Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario, 25 Morton Shulman Ave, Toronto, ON, Canada.
4
Pathology & Molecular Medicine, McMaster University, 1200 Main St W, Hamilton, ON, Canada.

Abstract

To assess if Benford's law, a mathematical law used for quality assurance in accounting, can be applied as a quality assurance measure for the manner of death determination. We examined a regional forensic pathology service's monthly manner of death counts (N = 2352) from 2011 to 2013, and provincial monthly and weekly death counts from 2009 to 2013 (N = 81,831). We tested whether each dataset's leading digit followed Benford's law via the chi-square test. For each database, we assessed whether number 1 was the most common leading digit. The manner of death counts first digit followed Benford's law in all the three datasets. Two of the three datasets had 1 as the most frequent leading digit. The manner of death data in this study showed qualities consistent with Benford's law. The law has potential as a quality assurance metric in the manner of death determination for both small and large databases.

KEYWORDS:

forensic science; health & safety; public health; qualitative research; quality in health care; statistics and research methods

PMID:
28631383
DOI:
10.1111/1556-4029.13437
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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