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Variations in death notification of nursing home residents to Australian Coroners


Objectives To examine the impact of changes to the reporting requirements in coronial legislation on the nature and frequency of nursing home resident deaths reported to Coroners.

Design National retrospective study of a population cohort of nursing home resident deaths.

Setting Accredited Australian nursing homes between July 2000 and June 2013.

Participants Residents who died in nursing homes accredited by the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency reported to Coroners.

Main outcome measures We explored three death-reporting models in the nursing home setting: comprehensive model, selective ‘mechanism of death’ model and selective ‘age of death’ model. These models were examined by manner of death subgroups: natural, falls-related and other external causes using the outcome measure of deaths notified to the Coroner per 1000 residents. We used an interrupted time series analysis using generalised linear regression with a negative binomial probability distribution and a log link function.

Results The comprehensive model showed the proportion of reportable deaths due to natural causes far exceeded those from falls and other external cause. In contrast, the selective notification models reduced the total number of reportable deaths. Similarly, the selective ‘age of death’ model showed a decline in the reportable external cause deaths.

Conclusions Variation in the causes, locations and ages of persons whose deaths are legally required to be notified to Coroners impacts the frequency and nature of deaths of nursing home residents investigated by Coroners. This demonstrates that legislation needs to be carefully framed and applied to ensure that the prevention mandate of Coroners in Australia is to be achieved.

  • older people
  • residential institution
  • mortality

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