Mortality Rates

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Mortality rates are commonly used statistics that tell us how many people die either in general or from a specific condition, in a given population over a specific length of time. Usually, the rate is expressed per 1000 people, however this is frequently changed depending on the population size. An example of a mortality rate is that in 2000 an estimated 2.9 million people died of diabetes, of a total 170 million individuals with the condition. This equates to a mortality rate of 0.017. Therefore in the year 2000, 17 people in every 1000 who had diabetes died from the condition.

There are a number of different types of mortality rates that measure different types of deaths. For example the maternal mortality rate measures how many deaths were attributable to childbearing in every 100,000 pregnant women.

The WHO (World Health Organisation) gathers information about mortality rates, so that changes in healthcare can be made to help people live longer and with a better quality of life. Currently the greatest cause of mortality is malnutrition.

Healthcare professionals are always interested in mortality rate data, as high mortality rates can sometimes be a sign of poor medical practice, indicating where change is required. Most recently mortality rates have shown that there is an increased number of deaths in August of every year, possibly coinciding with the new junior doctors starting work in hospitals.