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Improving hospital death certification in Vietnam: results of a pilot study of injury-related fatalities
  1. Merrilyn Walton1,
  2. Reema Harrison2,
  3. Anna Chevalier3,
  4. Esmond Esguerra4,
  5. Nguyen Duc Chinh5,
  6. Haphan Haian6,
  7. Dang Van Duong6,
  8. Huong Giang6
  1. 1 School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2 School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3 Safer Roads Consulting, Thirroul, New South Wales, Australia
  4. 4 University of Sydney, Office for Global Health, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  5. 5 Benh Vien Viet Duc, Hanoi, Vietnam
  6. 6 Bach Mai Hospital, Hanoi, Vietnam
  1. Correspondence to Dr Reema Harrison, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales 2052, Australia; reema.harrison{at}


Background Vietnam has prioritised the establishment of a civil registration system for deaths but as yet is unable to report accurate national statistics for the population of 93.5 million people due to inadequate mortality data. Verbal autopsy data suggest that injury is a third leading cause of death (by International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision chapters) in Vietnam, with road traffic injuries in particular a significant and increasing challenge. The study aims to present a more accurate profile of the number and probable causes of these deaths based on data collected hospitals using a version of the WHO death certificate modified for the Vietnamese context.

Methods Death data collected from Viet Duc Surgical and Trauma Hospital in Vietnam between 1 March 2013 to 31 March 2015 was analysed to explore the number and probable causes of deaths for deaths resulting from an injury.

Results A total of 1616 deaths were recorded for Viet Duc Hospital, of which 73% (1181/1616) were associated with an injury. Most (83%; n=871/1049) injury-related deaths for which immediate cause of death was documented were as a result of head/brain injuries. Injury-related deaths were most commonly caused by from traffic accidents (72%, 853/1181). The majority of patients suffering injury-related deaths were discharged home to die (93%, 1097/1181).

Conclusion The study confirms some findings from previous studies about deaths from injuries, while disagreeing with others, highlighting the challenge for Vietnam in collecting these data. Gathering detailed death data provides essential evidence on which to base decisions about allocation of government funding and policy for injury prevention and treatment.

  • public health
  • road traffic injury
  • mortality
  • surveillance

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  • Contributors Each of the listed authors made substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data or analysis and interpretation of data; drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and to the final approval of the version to be published as set out in the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The death data belong to the participating hospital and require their permission to access.