Alive vs Dead

Heather Leslie heather.leslie at
Tue Jan 5 02:46:49 EST 2016

Thanks Grahame,

Knew someone would be able to provide a HL7 POV


From: openEHR-clinical [mailto:openehr-clinical-bounces at] On Behalf Of Grahame Grieve
Sent: Tuesday, 5 January 2016 6:29 PM
To: For openEHR clinical discussions <openehr-clinical at>
Subject: Re: Alive vs Dead

FHIR - either
  deceasedBoolean = false:  known not to be deceased as of record date
  deceasedBoolean = true: known to be deceased as of record date, but date not known
  deceasedDate = [date] : known to have passed away on provided date

CDA/RIM: same  - but the names are different (and allows for time of death)

  PID-29 - Patient Death Date and Time
  PID-30 - Patient Death Indicator = Y/N
 - so the same as RIM

AS 5017
- Date of Death Date
- Date of Death Date Accuracy Indicator
- Source of Death Notification
+ stupid wrong rule that date of death <= date of birth
+ you are not allowed to know that the patient is deceased without knowing the date

I'd think that the fairly ubiquitous HL7 model would have pretty good penetration, and would only be so consistent if it was meeting the requirements.


On Tue, Jan 5, 2016 at 6:19 PM, Heather Leslie <heather.leslie at<mailto:heather.leslie at>> wrote:
Just talking it through further with Hugh.

The notion of a patient being alive is only possible while they are in the room with you. As soon as they walk out the door they could drop dead.

So this adds a further complication. From a pure modelling point of view:

•         the only reliable status is to record if a patient is dead, maybe alongside date of death, cause of death etc – ie the archetype of death that contains clinically relevant data!

•         for querying  -  if the patient is not recorded as being known as dead or deceased, then we assume either the patient is still alive or that their status is unknown.

I suspect that the reality is that many current systems do have an alive vs dead  status of some sort – would anyone like to confirm or deny?



From: openEHR-clinical [mailto:openehr-clinical-bounces at<mailto:openehr-clinical-bounces at>] On Behalf Of Heather Leslie
Sent: Tuesday, 5 January 2016 5:44 PM
To: For openEHR clinical discussions <openehr-clinical at<mailto:openehr-clinical at>>
Subject: Alive vs Dead

Hi everyone,

Seeking some advice please.

In the context of a data registry or research database to record if a person is alive or dead. Maybe there might be an alternative value of ‘unsure’ or ‘indeterminate’ as well, I guess.

I’m wondering if there is any naming convention for this data element – I’ve come across ‘Alive status’ and ‘Vital status’ by googling and researching all the places I can think of. Surprisingly there seems very little available on the topic. SNOMED CT has alive and dead within the ‘General clinical state finding (finding)’ hierarchy, although ‘deceased’ is part of the ‘Finding related to general body function (finding)’ hierarchy.

‘Living status’ was proposed on a forum, but seems a bit weird if they are dead.

To add to the confusion, the requirements I am modelling uses the name ‘Status’ (which needs some sort of archetype context) and the values are ‘Alive’ and ‘Deceased’ which cross the SNOMED CT hierarchies!

We could just be very pragmatic and label the data element ‘Alive vs Dead?’

Curious problem – I thought there would be more on the internets ☺.

Any wisdom you can share would be most appreciated.

And then I guess we need to think of related data elements that might be grouped with this status.



Consulting Lead, Ocean Informatics<>
Clinical Programme Lead, openEHR Foundation<>
p: +61 418 966 670<tel:%2B61%20418%20966%20670>   skype: heatherleslie   twitter: @omowizard

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