3024.0: Monday, October 22, 2001 - 12:45 PM

Abstract #21803

Heat-related mortality in selected United States cities, summer 1999

Mitchell I Wolfe, MD, MPH1, Reinhard Kaiser, MD, MPH1, Mary P Naughton, MD, MPH1, Maria C Mirabelli, MPH2, Steven S Yoon, ScD, MPH3, Randy Hanzlick, MD4, and Alden K Henderson, PhD, MPH1. (1) Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road, MS E-47, Atlanta, GA 30333, (404) 639-2501, msw6@cdc.gov, (2) Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (3) Epi Info Development Team, Epidemiology Program Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (4) Medical Examiner and Coroner Information Sharing Program,CDC, and Chief Medical Examiner, Fulton County, Georgia.

As part of a public health response to severe heat waves in the midwestern and northeastern United States in the summer of 1999, we actively solicited the number of heat-related deaths from 38 medical examiner and coroner (ME/C) jurisdictions comprising 35 metropolitan areas to enumerate heat-related deaths in areas affected by heat waves. We also determined the usefulness of these data for surveillance and rapid investigation of heat-related deaths by asking the ME/C offices about investigational protocols and case definitions used for suspected heat-related deaths. A total of 334 heat-related deaths were reported during the study period of July 1 - August 31. Minor changes in data collection and diagnostic criteria in some ME/C jurisdictions would allow for greater comparability among jurisdictions. The National Association of Medical Examiners' position paper on heat-related mortality diagnosis provides important guidance to ME/Cs regarding the certification of heat-related deaths and may require some refinement to address certain issues. Among these are certifying manner of death and classifying potential causes of heat-related death not involving hyperthermia or heat stroke but where heat is a potential contributing factor to death. Many heat-related deaths are preventable, and most deaths certified as heat-related are investigated by ME/Cs. Therefore, ME/Cs are an important resource for heat-related mortality research, and improvements in data collection and reporting could yield tremendous benefits to our understanding of and interventions for heat-related deaths.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant in this session will be able to: 1.Describe the role of medical examiners and coroners in surveillance for specific types of deaths such as heat-related mortality. 2. Discuss the issues involved in the diagnosis of heat-related deaths, and the next steps to be taken to improve the timely response to heat-related deaths. 3. Describe the benefits of improved reporting of heat-related mortality.

Keywords: Mortality, Surveillance

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None, except for the National Association of Medical Examiners position paper on the diagnosis of heat-related death.
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

The 129th Annual Meeting of APHA