Alive vs Dead

Heather Leslie heather.leslie at
Tue Jan 5 03:09:32 EST 2016

Thanks. What was the actual requirement for Vital status in PARENT?

The more I think about it, confirmed by a number of responses already from the list, HL7 work etc, is that the notion of recording someone is alive is a bit of a nonsense really – very akin to the problem of recording exclusions for adverse reaction. We can only record that they are alive while we see them and they could easily drop dead as they walk out the door of the consulting room.

The only hard data is if they are dead. Otherwise we assume they are alive.


From: openEHR-clinical [mailto:openehr-clinical-bounces at] On Behalf Of Ian McNicoll
Sent: Tuesday, 5 January 2016 6:56 PM
To: For openEHR clinical discussions <openehr-clinical at>
Subject: Re: Alive vs Dead

Hi Heather,

I have been using an 'Anonymised person' archetype for this purpose, including a 'Vital status' element which came out of the PARENT work and European Rare Disease registry definitions.

This is still in an Incubator.


Dr Ian McNicoll
mobile +44 (0)775 209 7859
office +44 (0)1536 414994
skype: ianmcnicoll
email: ian at<mailto:ian at>
twitter: @ianmcnicoll

Co-Chair, openEHR Foundation ian.mcnicoll at<mailto:ian.mcnicoll at>
Director, freshEHR Clinical Informatics Ltd.
Director, HANDIHealth CIC
Hon. Senior Research Associate, CHIME, UCL

On 5 January 2016 at 06:43, Heather Leslie <heather.leslie at<mailto:heather.leslie at>> wrote:
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

openEHR-clinical mailing list
openEHR-clinical at<mailto:openEHR-clinical at>

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the openEHR-clinical mailing list