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Predicting deaths – estimating the proportion of deaths that are ‘unexpected’
  1. S Blackmore,
  2. J Verne and
  3. A Pring
  1. South West Public Health Observatory


Background A key workstream within the National End of Life Care Strategy is the identification by health professionals of individuals who are in the last year of life so that they can be offered Advanced Care Planning1. End of Life Care Registers are being developed to support this by holding information on these patients. This information will be readily available to health and social care professionals who may be involved in planned or emergency care for these individuals.

Aims There is conflicting information on the proportion of the population for whom this may be possible. This paper summarises data from a number of sources to try to estimate the proportion of registered deaths which may be unpredictable and therefore unlikely to be included on an End of Life Care Register.

Methods Appropriate data was extracted and analysed from four key sources. The sources were critically appraised and a proportion of unexpected deaths was ascertained.

Results Approximately 25% of all deaths in England and Wales can be assumed to be unexpected deaths.

Conclusions This finding adds to what is already known as it should assist in service planning when considering the development and implementation of End of Life Care registers and associated service provision as it can be assumed that 75% of all deaths in England and Wales are predictable to some extent and suitable for inclusion on End of Life Care registers.

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