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Hospitals fail to report deaths - China.

(Aug. 17, 2006) China's medical institutions failed to report one third of deaths to the national health surveillance network, the country's top health authority said on Tuesday.

Furthermore, an estimated 20 per cent of hospitals failed to report any deaths.

"Lack of attention and understanding of the importance of death reporting has resulted in missing reports by local authorities," said Mao Qun'an, spokesman of the Ministry of Health (MOH).

"It causes a lot of difficulties for the country's control and prevention of infectious diseases."

The MOH carried out an investigation into the operation of a death reporting system among 130 medical institutions at and above county level in 29 provinces and municipalities at the end of last year. The reporting system was introduced in April 2004.

In one province, which the MOH did not name, more than 86 per cent of deaths had not been reported.

And across the country almost 30 per cent of deaths were not reported in a timely manner. The MOH pointed out that the hospitals at provincial level usually delayed reports for longer than those at lower levels.

The investigation found that about 25 per cent of death causes had been misreported. More than 60 per cent of reported deaths had been attributed to symptoms instead of causes, including failures of the heart, respiratory system, kidneys or lungs.

The investigation revealed poor management and supervision of the reporting system, the ministry admitted. The ministry urged local medical institutions to report fatalities in a more direct, timely and concise manner and instructed health authorities to improve staff training, especially on how to fill in the reporting form and pinpoint the exact cause of death.

"The importance of such reporting needs to be stressed," Mao said. "It is very wrong for medical staff to only report deaths of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and bird flu, but neglect other fatalities from unknown reasons."

Source: China Daily (boxun.com)

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