National Records of Scotland

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Weekly death registrations - in total, and caused by respiratory system diseases

Weekly death registrations - in total, and caused by respiratory system diseases

This page provides information about the total number of deaths registered in Scotland in each week from the start of 2009 to early March 2010, and the numbers of deaths for which the underlying cause was coded to respiratory system diseases, as defined in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD).

Because of concern about H1N1/swine flu, National Records of Scotland (NRS) published these figures each week, from mid-August 2009 until mid-March 2010. Analysis of the use of the NRS website in February and early March 2010 established that there was, by then, very little interest in such figures, so the last of these releases was published on Friday 19th March. However, should users of the statistics require information for further weeks, it would be possible to produce it from NRS's statistical database: any requests for further weeks' figures should be made to Statistics Customer Services (e-mail: statisticscustomerservices@nrscotland.gov.uk).

All the figures for weeks in 2009 and 2010 are provisional. While the total numbers of deaths registered in previous weeks are unlikely to be revised significantly, the numbers for which the underlying cause was coded to respiratory system diseases may change as and when NRS receives further information (further information can be found in the death certificates and coding the causes of death section of this website). 

The total figure for the most recent week was taken from NRS's administrative database of death registration records. All the figures for the earlier weeks were taken from NRS's statistical database: its contents are based on the records from the administrative database, after further processing of the information for statistical purposes, which includes the coding of the causes of death (the time required to do this means that the figure for the number of deaths from respiratory system diseases is less up-to-date than the overall total).

Processing the data for statistical purposes can lead to minor changes to the total numbers of deaths registered in previous weeks: for example, if a death registered at the weekend is counted against different weeks by the administrative system and the statistical system (the latter's weeks start on Sundays; for ease of use, the spreadsheet describes the weeks as running from Monday to Friday).

The numbers of deaths for which the underlying cause was respiratory system diseases are produced by applying the ICD rules to the causes of death recorded on the death certificate, and taking account of any further information subsequently received by NRS. The ICD rules are not straightforward, and may lead to deaths being classified in a way that a layman might not expect. For example, the ICD rules state that pneumonia for which no causative organism is specified should be considered an obvious consequence of: other respiratory disorders; conditions that impair the immune system; paralysing and immobilising disorders such as strokes; and wasting diseases. As a result, if part I of the death certificate lists only a terminal condition, such as bronchopneumonia, but part II has, say, breast cancer or motor neurone disease, then the condition in part II would be selected as the underlying cause for statistical tabulation. The number of deaths classified as due to respiratory system diseases will depend both on certification by doctors and on these coding conventions. The numbers of deaths have not been broken down to show more detailed cause of death categories because a study of death certificates in England and Wales in the 1989/90 flu epidemic showed that only about a tenth of the number of deaths apparently attributable to the epidemic had been certified as due to any form of flu. A further fifth were classified as due to pneumonia, and another fifth to other respiratory disorders.

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Weekly death registrations - in total, and caused by respiratory diseases
(Excel - 73 KB)

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