Accuracy in certification of cause of death in a tertiary care hospital--a retrospective analysis

J Forensic Leg Med. 2014 May;24:33-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jflm.2014.03.006. Epub 2014 Mar 31.


Every physician is duty bound to issue a "Cause of Death" certificate in the unfortunate event death of his/her patient. Incomplete and inaccurate entry in these certificates poses difficulty in obtaining reliable information pertaining to causes of mortality, leads to faulty public health surveillance, and causes hindrance in research. This study intends to evaluate the completeness and accuracy of Medical Certification of Cause of Death in our Institute and to formulate strategy to improve the quality of reporting of cause of death. During the period from January 2012 to December 2012, a total of 151 certificates of cause of death were issued by the faculty members of various departments. Maximum number of death certificates were issued for patients in the extremes of the age <10 years (n = 42, 27.82%) and in >60 years (n = 46, 30.46%). The various inadequacies observed by us are as follows: 40 (26.49%) cases had inaccurate cause of death, interval between onset and terminal event was missing in 94 (62.25%) cases, in 68 (45.03%)cases the seal with registration number of the physician was not available on the certificate, incomplete antecedent & underlying cause of death was found in 35 (23.18%) & 84 (55.63%) cases, in 66 (43.71%) cases there was use of abbreviations and the handwriting was illegible in 79(52.32%) cases.

Keywords: Inaccurate; Medical certification of cause of death; Mode of death.

MeSH terms

  • Abbreviations as Topic
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cause of Death*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Death Certificates*
  • Documentation / standards*
  • Faculty, Medical
  • Female
  • Handwriting
  • Humans
  • India
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Terminology as Topic
  • Tertiary Care Centers
  • Young Adult