A Whopping 1 In 3 Death Certificates List Wrong Cause Of Death

BY OLIVIA MILTNER

New York City, in the early aughts, had one of the highest rates of heart disease deaths in the nation. Nearly 40 percent of deaths there were attributed officially to heart disease, according to Bob Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the National Center for Health Statistics.

But the statistic didn’t align with New York’s risk factors for heart disease — most notably, smoking, obesity and high blood pressure — which should’ve put the city at or below the 2003 national average of roughly 28 percent. So the NYC Health Department launched a validation study of death certificates across the area’s 70 hospitals in 2010. It found a 91 percent overreporting of coronary heart disease (CHD) as the cause of death.

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