We briefly describe 2 systems that provided disaster-related mortality surveillance during and after Hurricane Sandy in New York City, namely, the New York City Health Department Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS) and the American Red Cross paper-based tracking system.
Red Cross fatality data were linked with New York City EDRS records by using decedent name and date of birth. We analyzed cases identified by both systems for completeness and agreement across selected variables and the time interval between death and reporting in the system.
Red Cross captured 93% (41/44) of all Sandy-related deaths; the completeness and quality varied by item, and timeliness was difficult to determine. The circumstances leading to death captured by Red Cross were particularly useful for identifying reasons individuals stayed in evacuation zones. EDRS variables were nearly 100% complete, and the median interval between date of death and reporting was 6 days (range: 0-43 days).
Our findings indicate that a number of steps have the potential to improve disaster-related mortality surveillance, including updating Red Cross surveillance forms and electronic databases to enhance timeliness assessments, greater collaboration across agencies to share and use data for public health preparedness, and continued expansion of electronic death registration systems. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2014;8:489-491)