Mortality data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) are a fundamental source of demographic, geographic, and cause-of-death information. This is one of the few sources of health-related data that are comparable for small geographic areas and are available for a long time period in the United States. The data are also used to present the characteristics of those dying in the United States, to determine life expectancy, and to compare mortality trends with other countries.
Standard forms for the collection of the data and model procedures for the uniform registration of the events are developed and recommended for nationwide use through cooperative activities of the jurisdictions and NCHS. Material is available to assist persons in completing the death certificate. NCHS shares the costs incurred by the States in providing vital statistics data for national use. For further information, refer to U.S. Vital Statistics System Major Activities and Developments: 1950-95. Software is available to automate coding of medical information on the death certificate, following World Health Organization rules specified in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).