TECHNICAL NOTE CORONER CERTIFIED DEATH
1 In order to complete a perinatal death registration, the death must be certified by either a doctor using the Perinatal Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, or by a coroner. It is the role of the coroner to investigate the circumstances surrounding all reportable perinatal deaths and to establish wherever possible the circumstances surrounding the death, and the cause(s) of death. For information regarding the types of deaths certified by a Coroner, please refer to Explanatory Note 3.
2 When coronial investigations are complete, causes of death information is passed to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, as well as to the National Coronial Information System (NCIS). The ABS commenced using the NCIS to code coroner certified perinatal deaths for the 2003 reference year. Since 2006, the ABS has relied totally on information available on the NCIS to code perinatal deaths certified by a Coroner. Prior to 2006, the ABS had sought additional information on coroner certified perinatal deaths where information was not available on NCIS by undertaking personal visits to Coroner offices to extract information from paper records. From 2006 onwards, where a case remains open on the NCIS at the time the ABS ceases processing, only information available on NCIS is used by the ABS to code the cause of death. Where insufficient information is available to code a cause of death (e.g. a coroner certified death was yet to be finalised by the Coroner), less specific ICD codes are assigned as required by the ICD coding rules.
3 Up to and including perinatal deaths registered in 2006, ABS perinatal deaths processing was finalised at a point in time. This meant that not all perinatal deaths registered in the reference year which were referred to the coroner, had been investigated, the case closed and relevant information loaded to the NCIS by the time the ABS ceased processing for that time period. The coronial process can take several years if an inquest is being held or if complex investigations are being undertaken. Any general increase in the length of coronial investigations or the timeliness of input of coronial findings to the NCIS, has the potential to affect ABS data quality in terms of specificity. The fact that a case is still open limits the amount of information available to the ABS in order to be able to code causes of death, and may result in a less specific code being allocated.
4 All coroner certified perinatal deaths registered after 1 January 2007 will be subject to a revision process. This is a change from previous years where all ABS processing of causes of death data for a particular reference period was finalised approximately 13 months after the end of the reference period. The revision process will enable the use of additional information relating to coroner certified perinatal deaths as it becomes available over time, resulting in increased specificity of the assigned ICD-10 codes.
5 Revised data for 2007 will be published both on a year of registration basis and a year of occurrence basis in the 2008 Perinatal Deaths publication, due to be released in March 2010 and again in the publication relating to the 2009 collection due for release in 2011. Revisions will only impact on coroner certified perinatal deaths, as further information becomes available to the ABS about the causes of these deaths.
6 6 Further information on coroner certified deaths and ABS processing can be obtained in Information Paper: ABS Causes of Death Collection: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 3317.0.55.002).