Reticent doctors muddle medical history in reporting patient deaths

SRINAGAR: Hospitals in Kashmir, both in the public and private sector, have no records on the cause-specific mortality rate of patients leading to lack of knowledge and research on health trends among the local population. Reticent doctors in Kashmir mention the immediate cause of death and often ignore the underlying pathological cause.
Experts say that the erroneous practice does not reveal the exact prevalence of diseases and causes of death. In normal practice, if a chronic diabetic dies of cardiac arrest, the doctors mention the cardiology event as the cause and parry the underlying cause which initiated the train of fatal events.
Under the System of Registration of Births and Deaths, the scheme of Medical Certification of Cause of Death (MCCD) was introduced in 1961. Under the scheme, age, sex and cause-specific mortality rates is given so that planners, administrators and medical professionals can provide feedback for future policy and implementation, better health planning and management and deciding priorities of health and medical research programmes.
During the certification of the Cause of Death, it’s incorrect to write, for example, that the patient died of cardiac failure, cardiac pulmonary arrest, respiratory arrest or brain death, ignoring the underlying causes.
Dr Farida Noor, head department of forensics and toxicology who has conducted a workshop on the importance of MCCD at Lalla Ded Hospital said, “MCCD forms the basis of the healthcare system of state. This medical information serves as basis for disturbing trends in human health, mortality and for analysing the conditions leading to death.”
Stressing for MCCD implementation, she said that it would help the state publish data in National Vital Statistics (NVS) reports that help in managing funds for medical support from the international organisations. World Health Organisation (WHO), and United Nations funding is generally based on NVS reports.
In most Indian states, the scheme has been implemented. In J&K, even awareness on it is lacking. Interestingly, the demand for mentioning exact cause of death has come from relatives of Amarnath yatris who have died during the annual pilgrimage. Doctors often describe the cause of death of Amarnath yatris as “cardiac arrest or respiratory illness.”
Principal Government Medical College, Dr Qaiser Ahmad said, “We are sensitising doctors about MCCD. We already had a programme at Lal Ded hospital and now more such programmes will be coming up,” he said.
Minister of state for health Asiea Naqash said, “I am not aware of the issue but since you have highlighted it, I will ask my staff to see as to how we can proceed about it,” she told Kashmir Reader.