Publication - FOI/EIR release

Questions concerning COVID-19 diagnosis and recording: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Published:
23 Oct 2020
Questions concerning COVID-19 diagnosis and recording: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000094152
Date received: 1 Oct 2020
Date responded: 21 Oct 2020
Information requested

1) Could the Scottish Government provide a breakdown of deaths counted as Covid-19 in terms of the particular ICD classification/coding i.e U07.1 and U07.2. If data could be provided since the inclusion of U07.2 to the ICD coding (March 2020), that would be appreciated.

2) Could the Scottish Government provide details of safeguards/compliance policies it adheres to with respect the potential for mis-categorization/inaccurate counting of Covid-19 deaths (but not limited only to deaths, i.e all counts) due to the above coding and the CDC clinical diagnostic criteria (for example: according to CDC guidelines, 'cough' can be used as a valid diagnostic criteria for the qualification of a diagnosis of Covid-19).

Given the potential for miscategorization due to the ubiquity of coughing, I presume the Scottish Government has a robust policy in place RE avoidance of statistical [request broke off here]

3) Could the Scottish Government provide numbers for flu deaths since March that aren't coded as Covid-19 (per-month breakdown, if possible)

4) Could the Scottish Government give justification as to Schedule 14, 2(2) of the Coronavirus Act 2020 i.e what is the function/purpose of the suspension of review of death certificates.

Response

1) This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information that you have requested.

You may however wish to contact National Records Scotland (NRS) at foi@nrscotland.gov.uk who may be able to help you. NRS only publish an aggregate figure of U07.1 and U07.2, however they may be able to provide you with more information.

2) Scotland's Chief Medical Officer (CMO), jointly with Police Scotland, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and National Records of Scotland (NRS) issued guidance to doctors for death certification during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance can be found by accessing the following link: https://www.sehd.scot.nhs.uk/cmo/CMO(2020)15.pdf

In addition, we noted that your enquiry appeared to be cut off, and therefore could only reply to the first part of the enquiry.

3) This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information that you have requested.

You may however wish to contact National Records Scotland (NRS) at foi@nrscotland.gov.uk who may be able to help you. NRS currently publish information every month relating to registered deaths by underlying cause of death, however there is no specific category for flu deaths that are not due to COVID-19. The latest monthly NRS report can be found by accessing the following link: https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/files//statistics/covid19/covid-deaths-report-week-41.pdf???

4) Schedule 14, 2(2) of the Coronavirus Act 2020 enables Scottish Ministers to suspend reviews by the Death Certification Review Service (DCRS), the organisation which examines a sample of Medical Certificates of Cause of Death (MCCD).

The purpose of the suspension is to reduce the burden on front-line certifying doctors and to prevent a bottleneck in the death management system i.e. to prevent delays in death registration and funeral arrangements.

The review of MCCD was suspended by Scottish Ministers on a temporary basis, from 26 March to 11 May when it was reinstated at a reduced level. We incrementally increased the percentage of reviews over the following months and, on 31 August 2020, DCRS once again reviewed MCCD at normal, pre-pandemic levels.

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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
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