STUDY OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to calculate the proportion of deaths outside hospital in Sweden for some conditions for which the acute medical management may be important to the outcome and to analyse whether the proportion of deaths outside hospital can explain regional variations in mortality from these causes of death. DESIGN: The place of death was registered on all death certificates in Sweden during the period 1987-90. The proportion of deaths outside hospital was calculated at the national level for selected causes of death. Variation in cause-specific mortality among the 26 administrative health areas in Sweden was analysed. Death rate ratios were calculated with standardisation for age and sex using the national rate as standard. The correlation between the proportion of deaths outside hospital in each health area and the cause specific mortality irrespective of place of death was calculated. For areas with a significantly high death rate the ratios for mortality outside hospital as well as in hospital were analysed in order to decide which component of mortality represented a high mortality risk. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: All death registration in Swedish citizens and other residents in Sweden aged under 70 years between 1987 and 1990 which gave diabetes, asthma, ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular diseases, or ulcer of the stomach or duodenum as the underlying cause of death. MAIN RESULTS: For asthma (58%) and ischaemic heart disease (54%), most deaths occurred outside hospital. For most causes of death, however, no correlation was found among the health areas between the proportion of deaths outside hospital and the SMR for mortality irrespective of the place of death. A high death rate was associated with a high proportion of deaths outside hospital, for diabetes in one area in the north of Sweden (Norrbotten) and for ulcer of the stomach and duodenum in one large municipality (Göteborg). CONCLUSIONS: The high proportion of deaths outside hospital at the national level for some of the conditions studied suggests that in-depth studies of the process preceding death and the functioning of medical care are needed. In most cases, however, no evidence was found that regional variation in mortality could be explained by death outside hospital. The results for diabetes in Norbotten and ulcer of stomach and duodenum in Göteborg indicate that in-depth studies on the quality of care are required.
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