Daily Mail, 31 January 2012
Letter for publication in response to an article in the Daily Mail on Tuesday 31 January 2012
Your article "Exposed: how patients are dying needlessly from bedsores" (Daily Mail, 31 January) contains factual inaccuracies similar to those in your article last week on deaths in hospital from dehydration and malnutrition.
You state that "more than 27,000 people died with bedsores or infected wounds in 2010, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics". However, to obtain this figure you have summed the number of deaths where septicaemia or pressure sores was the underlying cause of death, with the number of deaths where these causes were mentioned anywhere on the death certificate.
The figures based on underlying cause of death should not be added to figures based on when a cause is mentioned anywhere on the death certificate. This is because the number of deaths based on underlying cause are already included in the figures based on any mention of a cause. Moreover, individuals who were suffering from both septicaemia and pressure sores will be included twice in the figures based on any mention on the death certificate. By adding the four numbers together you are double-counting deaths.
This point is clearly explained in the tables provided by ONS. It was also explained during e-mail correspondence with your journalist and emphasised in my letter to you last week. ONS takes great care to answer requests for data with all the supporting information required for accurate interpretation.
Deputy Director, Health and Life Events Division
Office for National Statistics