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APPENDIX II. THE DEATH CERTIFICATE
Example of a completed medical certificate of cause of death
Source: Cause of death certification Australia: A booklet for the guidance of medical practitioners in completing medical certificates of cause of death (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1999).
ABS coding of causes of death
The ABS coding process classifies the text describing causes of death into codes for statistical purposes. The data are processed using software developed by the National Center for Health Statistics (of the United States of America).The information is then made available in two forms- entity-axis-data and record-axis-data.
Entity-axis-data contain codes for all causes of death in the order and position that they appeared on the death certificate.
Record-axis-data contain codes for all causes of death, in alphanumeric order, following processing in accordance with ICD coding rules and rules associated with the automated processing system.
Record-axis-data have multiple and underlying causes assigned and have had duplicate and superfluous codes removed, and are thus generally more appropriate for output purposes. In addition, some specific combinations of causes are 'linked', that is they are replaced by a single code. For example, if 'pulmonary oedema' (J81) appears on the death certificate along with 'heart failure unspecified' (I50.9), these two causes are replaced by 'left ventricular failure' (I50.1). Record-axis-data are generally used for ABS publications and have been used for all analysis in this paper. Standard ABS unit record files contain both record-axis-data and entity-axis-data.
While record-axis-data are generally used for multiple cause of death analysis, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare recommends that entity-axis-data also be "considered for its relevance to multiple cause analysis, to ensure that any relevant codes that become incorporated into linkages are taken into account." (AIHW, 2002.)
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