Aim: To acquire systematic data on the causes of hospital mortality in Pakistan, a developing country with scant mortality records.
Study design: Retrospective review of death certificates and hospital charts of patients dying on general and specialty medical services at our hospital during one calendar year.
Results: Of a total 10,590 admissions, 657 (6.2%) died in hospital. The deceased included 357 (54.4%) males and 299 (45.6%) females, with a collective median age of 63 years and mean length of stay 6.71 days (median 4 days, range 1-56 days). Primary cause of death was categorised as infectious (21.2%), pulmonary (17.2%), cancer related (15.7%), cardiovascular (12.6%), gastrointestinal and hepatic (10.8%), neurological (11.4%) and miscellaneous (11.1%). Within each category, the most common diagnoses were septicaemia (76.9% of infectious cases), pneumonia (55.7% of pulmonary cases), myocardial infarction (40.9% of cardiovascular), intracranial haemorrhage (37.3% of neurological), and cirrhosis (45.0% of gastrointestinal). There were multiple causes among malignant disorders with no single cause dominating. Patients with cardiovascular and pulmonary deaths tended to be older than the median age (p = 0.001), while patients with gastrointestinal and cancer related deaths tended to be younger than the median age (p = 0.001). Length of stay did not differ significantly among the various subgroups. About a quarter (26.4%) deaths occurred within 24 h of admission.
Conclusions: Infections, including septicaemia and pneumonia, are the leading causes of hospital mortality in our setting, followed by malignancy and cardiovascular causes. The overall mortality rate is comparable to published mortality data from other hospital settings.