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Multiple death records from different sources


Our database receives data from multiple sources. Sometimes, various sources send the death records of the same person to us. I understand the death table in CDM v5 (or the person table in CDM v6) is supposed to have only up to one death record per person. What should we do if we want to keep all the death records of a person from different sources?

Tagging: @clairblacketer


Hello @hiro-mishima,

Before asking “how to keep all source data in the CDM”, you should ask “why do we need it”? What is the use case to have two death records? The OMOP CDM is driven by real world use cases.


Nothing is certain in this world, except death (and taxes). Obviously, the patients only die once. The analyst working on @MPhilofsky’s use case has no clue how to interpret the double death. It is the job of the ETL team to figure out which of the death dates to believe more. You could think of different heuristics:

  • The more reliable feed
  • The date after which no new data are coming in
  • The first date, because the second date is just the time stamp of the certificate coming in
  • etc.

That makes sense. For the All of Us program we might be getting death data from various sources beyond the EHR (i.e. coordinators reaching out the participant family, CMS, state death registry, etc.). The issue we have is some of this data we might now have much control over to say which one is better, but I guess you are right @Christian_Reich, we need to create some type of rule to provide to users.

Not ‘All of Us’ know where the death data comes from, we either have it or we don’t and there is no way to verify if it is correct.

Pun intended. :slight_smile:

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Understood, but you can’t kick the can down the road to the analyst. That poor wretch has even less context to work with. So, push back against your sources and make them pick a date. If they can’t, have your own heuristic.

I should have sent that as a private message to Cukartik; my comment was more directed at the AOU process and not important for general OMOP; I apologize for the confusion.

I agree with your statement; not knowing if the data is precise or not, I would like to exclude it altogether.