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Amenable, preventable, avoidable: untangling how senior nurses talk about mortality

Using the right terminology for different kinds of deaths will help to focus on those that could have been avoided by good quality healthcare or public health interventions
Vector illustration depicting two brains. Using the right words to describe different kinds of deaths will help focus on treatable conditions and reduce preventable mortality, says associate director of public health for North Wales Rob Atenstaedt

Using the right terminology for different kinds of deaths will help to focus on those that could have been avoided by good quality healthcare or public health interventions

In my role as a consultant in public health medicine with a focus on health intelligence and public health, I often hear senior clinicians in the NHS, including nursing staff, use the term ‘preventable mortality’ to describe deaths caused by a failure to diagnose or manage a clinical condition correctly.

In other words, a failure of healthcare. I generally try to steer them towards using the term ‘amenable mortality’ instead.

‘Amenable’ deaths make up

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