KEY CHANGES IN THIS ISSUE
The ABS has made a number of changes relevant to the 2013 reference year. A key change has been the adoption of a new software system, Iris, for autocoding causes of death. Iris has replaced the Mortality Medical Data System (MMDS), which has been used by the ABS since 1997. The move to Iris has enabled the ABS to adopt a series of updates to the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10) which now aligns Australian mortality coding with international best practice. Updates to the ICD-10 are regulated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and are adopted only where they enhance accuracy or reflect improved medical understanding. Iris is language independent and is being adopted by many countries, heightening international comparability of mortality data.
The adoption of Iris, along with a review of coding practices, has led to a number of changes in the mortality dataset. Technical Note 1, ABS Implementation of the Iris Software: Understanding Coding and Process Improvements, provides details on both the ICD and coding changes.
The review of coding practices has improved alignment with coding rules as outlined in Volume 2 of ICD-10. This has resulted in an important change to the coding of perinatal deaths, with no underlying cause of death being derived for neonatal deaths in the 2013 dataset. An expanded range of neonatal death data has been made available in the Perinatal deaths datacube, to assist data users in the short term while a solution to this issue is sought in the medium term. Further information on changes to the perinatal dataset can be found in Technical Note 2, Changes to Perinatal Death Coding.
This publication draws extensively on information provided freely by the state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages, and the Victorian Department of Justice who manage the National Coroners Information System (NCIS). Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated: without it, the wide range of vitals statistics published by the ABS would not be available.
For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.
It should be noted that a national causes of death unit record file can be obtained through the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (data available on application for legitimate research purposes only).