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ERC: Genealogy and Family History: Records

   Vital Records



International Classification of Diseases (ICD):

If you possess a death certificate that uses a number to codify the cause of death of an individual, and you want to know what the actual cause of death was, please refer to the website whose link is given above. There are such codes from 1900 to the present, revised more or less every seven to fifteen years and now in its tenth revision. If you are going to use this information to learn about a particular cause of death, be sure to use the ICD table for the correct year, otherwise you will arrive at the wrong cause of death (this can be disconcerting!) Also note that many death certificates list secondary causes of death as well. Not all death certificates use the ICD codes; some actually spell out the primary and secondary causes of death. Often these ICD numbers are used to calculate morbidity and mortality rates.

The newest revision of the ICD is the tenth. The explanation below comes from the WHO (World Health Organization) and gives a brief history and explanation of what the ICD is:

"ICD-10 was endorsed by the Forty-third World Health Assembly in May 1990 and came into use in WHO Member States as from 1994. The classification is the latest in a series which has its origins in the 1850s. The first edition, known as the International List of Causes of Death, was adopted by the International Statistical Institute in 1893. WHO took over the responsibility for the ICD at its creation in 1948 when the Sixth Revision, which included causes of morbidity for the first time, was published.

The ICD has become the international standard diagnostic classification for all general epidemiological and many health management purposes. These include the analysis of the general health situation of population groups and monitoring of the incidence and prevalence of diseases and other health problems in relation to other variables such as the characteristics and circumstances of the individuals affected.

It is used to classify diseases and other health problems recorded on many types of health and vital records including death certificates and hospital records. In addition to enabling the storage and retrieval of diagnostic information for clinical and epidemiological purposes, these records also provide the basis for the compilation of national mortality and morbidity statistics by WHO Member States."




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