Research Article

Deaths under 50. Medical Services Study Group of the Royal College of Physicians of London.

Br Med J 1978; 2 doi: (Published 14 October 1978) Cite this as: Br Med J 1978;2:1061


The Medical Services Study Group has started a collaborative study in the Mersey, West Midlands, and Grampian regions to examine the causes of death among medical inpatients aged 1 to 50. The cause of death is determined from the case notes and the consultant's opinion. The rate of ascertainment of cases was initially low, though it is increasing; despite this limitation an analysis of the first 250 cases showed one important finding. No fewer than 98 patients contributed to their own deaths through overeating, drinking, smoking, or not complying with treatment. Despite the present statistical limitations of the study, it has been valuable in enlisting the good will of the participating physicians, which will help to ensure the success of other projects, and it has avoided the problems inherent in determining the cause of death from death certificates alone.