To analyse studies evaluating cases of potentially "avoidable" death.
The definitions, sources of information, and methods were reviewed with a structured protocol. The different types of avoidable factors,--that is, deficiencies in medical care that may have contributed to death--were categorised. The presence of explicit classifications and standards was examined. basic criteria for quality of the studies were defined and the numbers of studies fulfilling these criteria were assessed.
65 studies, published during 1988-93 in peer reviewed medical journal for which the title, or abstract, or both indicated that they had analysed potentially avoidable factors influencing death. Studies analysing aggregated data only, were not included.
Only one third of the studies fulfilled basic quality criteria,--namely, that the avoidable factors examined should be defined and the sources of information and people responsible for the judgements presented. The definitions used comprised two levels, one stating that there had been errors in management (process) and the other that the errors may have contributed to the deaths (outcome). Only 15% of the studies explicitly defined what type of factors they had looked for and 8% referred to specified standards of care.
Studies of avoidable factors influencing death may have considerable potential as part of a system of improving medical care and reducing avoidable mortality. At present, however, the results from different studies are not comparable, due to differences in materials and methods. There is a need to improve the quality of the studies and to define standardised explicit definitions and classifications.
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In order to improve perinatal service, special committees have been established in every county in Norway. These committees are responsible for making local guidelines and performing inquiries (audits) of all perinatal deaths. The focusing upon avoidable and possibly avoidable factors and identification of suboptimal care seems to be valuable in improving the quality of medical work. In 1989 the perinatal mortality was 7.8 per 1000 births.
Many classification systems for perinatal mortality are available, all with their own strengths and weaknesses: none of them has been universally accepted. We present a systematic multilayered approach for the analysis of perinatal mortality based on information related to the moment of death, the conditions associated with death and the underlying cause of death, using a combination of representatives of existing classification systems. We compared the existing classification systems regarding their definition of the perinatal period, level of complexity, inclusion of maternal, foetal and/or placental factors and whether they focus at a clinical or pathological viewpoint. Furthermore, we allocated the classification systems to one of three categories: 'when', 'what' or 'why', dependent on whether the allocation of the individual cases of perinatal mortality is based on the moment of death ('when'), the clinical conditions associated with death ('what'), or the underlying cause of death ('why'). A multilayered approach for the analysis and classification of perinatal mortality is possible by using combinations of existing systems; for example the Wigglesworth or Nordic Baltic ('when'), ReCoDe ('what') and Tulip ('why') classification systems. This approach is useful not only for in depth analysis of perinatal mortality in the developed world but also for analysis of perinatal mortality in the developing countries, where resources to investigate death are often limited.
To assess the quality of the imaging procedure requests and radiologists' reports using an auditing tool, and to assess the agreement between different observers of the quality parameters.
In an audit using a standardized scoring system, three observers reviewed request forms for 296 consecutive radiological examinations, and two observers reviewed a random sample of 150 of the corresponding radiologists' reports. We present descriptive statistics from the audit and pairwise inter-observer agreement, using the proportion agreement and kappa statistics.
The proportion of acceptable item scores (0 or +1) was above 70% for all items except the requesting physician's bleep or extension number, legibility of the physician's name, or details about previous investigations. For pairs of observers, the inter-observer agreement was generally high, however, the corresponding kappa values were consistently low with only 14 of 90 ratings >0.60 and 6 >0.80 on the requests/reports. For the quality of the clinical information, the appropriateness of the request, and the requested priority/timing of the investigation items, the mean percentage agreement ranged 67-76, and the corresponding kappa values ranged 0.08-0.24.
The inter-observer reliability of scores on the different items showed a high degree of agreement, although the kappa values were low, which is a well-known paradox. Current routines for requesting radiology examinations appeared satisfactory, although several problem areas were identified.
Systems that integrate information from both the patients and health professionals require bi-directional term translation. We manually extracted nursing terms from 25 randomly selected cancer patients' charts that expressed symptoms and mapped these to a set of patient-oriented symptoms from a cancer support system. We found that 40% of the nursing terms were synonyms of patient expressions that could be mapped directly; however 38% of the nursing terms required a map to more than one patient expression. In this study, we gained an understanding of the link between nursing and patient language that is needed for future system development.