Label without a cause

(May 25, 2016)

To talk informally about a concept, we need only give it a recognisable name. For example, we use the label "medical error" and we all know what is meant - or at least we think we do. However, there are clearly large differences between mis-diagnosing a condition, prescribing an incorrect dosage or removing the wrong internal organ, so our informal certainty is of limited practical use. We know that to analyse or measure a problem robustly over time (and ultimately to improve it), we need more than a high-level label. We need a rigorous classification, universally adhered to.

Rigorous classification is what the World Health Organisation's ICD system seeks to provide for analysts working with mortality data.

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Tags: cause of death, ICD, medical error, research

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