Research Article

Local confidential inquiry into avoidable factors in deaths from stroke and hypertensive disease.

BMJ 1993; 307 doi: (Published 23 October 1993) Cite this as: BMJ 1993;307:1027
  1. J N Payne,
  2. P C Milner,
  3. C Saul,
  4. I R Bowns,
  5. D R Hannay,
  6. L E Ramsay
  1. Department of Public Health, Rotherham Health Authority.


    OBJECTIVE--To audit avoidable deaths from stroke and hypertensive disease. DESIGN--Details of care before death were obtained from general practitioners and other doctors, anonymised, and assessed by two experts against agreed minimum standards of good practice for detecting and managing hypertension. SETTING--Health authority with population of 250,000. SUBJECTS--All patients under 75 years who died of stroke, hypertensive disease, or hypertension related causes during November 1990 to October 1991. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Presence of important avoidable factors and departures from minimum standards of good practice. RESULTS--Adequate information was obtained for 88% (123/139) of eligible cases. Agreement between the assessors was mostly satisfactory. 29% (36/123, 95% confidence interval 21% to 37%) of all cases and 44% (36/81, 34% to 55%) of those with definite hypertension had avoidable factors that may have contributed to death. These were most commonly failures of follow up and continuing smoking. Assessment against standards of minimum good practice showed that care was inadequate but not necessarily deemed to have contributed to death, in a large proportion of patients with definite hypertension. Common shortcomings were inadequate follow up, clinical investigation, and recording of smoking and other relevant risk behaviours. CONCLUSIONS--This method of audit can identify shortcomings in care of patients dying of hypertension related disease.