“When You Wish Upon a Stat…”

these DCs will leave you flat!

The following are cause-of-death statements taken from actual death certificates (DCs) completed by local physicians, flagged by the local Vital Statistics for a number of glaring reasons. Can you identify them?

Part I.

 

 

 

A.    Cardiopulmonary arrest

 

Approximate interval: Onset to death

 

Sudden

Due to (or as a consequence of):

B.

Due to (or as a consequence of):

C.

Due to (or as a consequence of):

 

D.

Part II. Other significant conditions contributing to death but not resulting in the underlying cause given in Part I

 

COPD, Paraplegia

Manner of Death

 

Natural

 

Part I.

 

 

 

A.    Respiratory failure, paraplegia

Approximate interval: Onset to death

 

1-3 days

Due to (or as a consequence of):

 

B.    Dementia, neurogenic bladder

 

1-3 wks

Due to (or as a consequence of):

 

C.  Paraplegia, Stage IV sacral ulcer

 

1-4 months

Due to (or as a consequence of):

 

D.  Paraplegia, spinal meningeal tumor

 

1-3 years

Part II. Other significant conditions contributing to death but not resulting in the underlying cause given in Part I
Manner of Death

 

Natural

 

 

Part I.

 

 

 

 

A.  Possible arrhythmia

 

Approximate interval: Onset to death

 

 

Few hours

Due to (or as a consequence of):

 

B.     Congestive heart failure

Due to (or as a consequence of):

C.

Due to (or as a consequence of):

D.

Part II. Other significant conditions contributing to death but not resulting in the underlying cause given in Part I

 

CKD, Uncontrolled DM, Cocaine Abuse

Manner of Death

 

Natural

 

 

A great amount and variety of statistical information is derived from the classification of different causes of death providing clinical practitioners with foundational information upon which to improve medical diagnosis and optimize patient care. This is facilitated by the classification system known as the International Classification of Disease (ICD) currently in its 11th revision. Clinicians are also (painfully) aware of the related clinical modification coding system ICD-CM which applies codes to medical diagnoses for many purposes including the monitoring of disease rates, medical care review, and basic health statistics. From the identification of the specific types of drugs driving the current drug death crisis to identifying deaths associated with defective medical devices, to the ranking of the most common causes of death, we stay informed (1, 2, 3 ) .

The more accurate and error-free the “raw materials” provided by certifiers of death, the better informed we are and ultimately the better off we are health wise (4).

References:

  1. Drug overdose death data. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/statedeaths.html .
  2. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Medical Products Program-MedWatch www.fda.gov/medwatch .
  3. Mortality in the United States, 2016. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db293.htm .
  4. Armstrong E J. 2017. Death Certificate Errors. In Essentials of Death Reporting and Death Certification-Practical Applications for the Clinical Practitioner pp. 146-58.