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Medical certification of cause of death

Challenges in accurate medical certification of cause of death

As noted in the previous sections, mortality statistics are based upon determining the single UCOD, which is the disease or injury that initiated the sequence of events that led directly to death. It is this UCOD that is amenable to preventative health interventions. Thus, it is extremely important that the underlying cause is determined and accurately recorded.

Four factors affect the quality of death certification and COD data, namely: 

  • The certifier – knowledge and skills of the certifying physician
  • The certificate – the form used for COD certification
  • The decedent – the characteristics of the deceased person
  • The COD – the attributes of the death event itself.


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