Today's News / Environmental and Occupational Health

UK: Work cause missed on death certificates

August 24, 2012
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+

A pilot scheme in the United Kingdom to double-check death certificates has found that work related fatalities may be being significantly underreported because doctors are failing to give an accurate cause of death for one in four patients.

Results suggest that doctors may blame the wrong type of disease in as many as one in 10 cases, by either getting it wrong or failing to acknowledge a pre-existing underlying cause. The findings came in a Sheffield pilot of a medical examiner system due to be introduced across England and Wales in April 2014. A 1,000-strong body of medical examiners will be tasked with double-checking death certificates.

Alan Fletcher, who is leading the Sheffield pilot scheme, found a quarter of more than 8,000 certificates studied over four years fell short. He said faults stemmed from doctors not 'reading' the full stories behind patients' fatal illnesses. He added doctors do not always understand when they must refer cases to a coroner.

'There was a failure to appreciate a cause of death that might be unnatural,' he told The Guardian. 'Take pulmonary fibrosis - a disease that might be acquired industrially. This is an area of mining and steelworks. The registrar would be required by law to refer this to a coroner. Doctors receive little or no training in death certification or coroner referral.' Dr Fletcher told Hazards magazine there 'are definitely a significant number' of cases where 'industrial causes' are overlooked.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to ISHN.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Scenes from the World of Safety

Sights, signs & symbols from the National Safety Congress & Expo held in San Diego, CA, September 15-18

11/4/14 2:00 pm EST

Eye Injuries: You rarely see them coming. Practical Solutions for reducing injuries to the eye.

The 3M Eye Injury Reduction webinar will provide an examination of how to help solve eye injuries in the workplace. This issue continues to challenge virtually every industry, and the solution is often times multifaceted. 3M will share some new tools and approaches to help you in solving this issue.

ISHN Magazine


2015 January

Check out ISHN's first issue of 2015, which features articles about hearing protection as well as the State of the EHS Nation 2015 Survey.

Table Of Contents Subscribe


M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\ISHN\safetyfourth.jpg
Safety Engineering, 4th Edition

A practical, solutions-driven reference, Safety Engineering, 4th edition, has been completely revised and updated to reflect many of today’s issues in safety.

More Products

For Distributors Only - January 2015



For Distributors Only is ISHN's niche brand standard-sized magazine supplement aimed at an audience of 2,000 U.S. distributors that sell safety products. Circulation only goes to distributors. 



Facebook logo Twitter YouTubeLinkedIn Google + icon

ishn infographics

2012 US workplace deathsCheck out ISHN's new Infographic page! Learn more about worker safety through these interactive images. CLICK HERE to view the page.