Glossary:External cause of death

An external cause of death, as mentioned in chapter XX of the WHO's ICD-10, is a death due to accidents and violence including environmental events, circumstances and conditions as the cause of injury, poisoning, and other adverse effects.

Broad categories include:

  • accidents;
  • homicide;
  • injury from war operations;
  • legal intervention;
  • medical misadventures or abnormal reactions;
  • suicides.

It is to be noted that, as medical science advances, some other diseases, e.g. infectious diseases, certain nutritional disease, certain cancers (mesothelioma due to asbestos) can be considered to be external causes of death. There is sometimes confusion between external cause of death and cause of death: chapter XX is sometimes erroneously considered a list of causes of death, while in fact it is only a list of causes of injury, poisoning, ....

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