OBJECTIVE: Mortality in the psychiatric population, both from natural and unnatural causes, is higher than in the general population and this is despite an improvement in the delivery of care and treatment of mental illness in recent years. The study was conducted to determine a profile of mortality and standardized mortality rates within our psychiatric hospital. METHOD: A retrospective
clinical case audit was conducted of deaths that occurred at Weskoppies Hospital between 1st January 2001 and 31st December
2005. Direct standardised mortality rates were calculated (gender specific adjusted for age according to the South African
population). RESLUTS: A total of 164 deaths were observed during this period. The gender-specific all cause mortality rates,
standardised to the South African population, were 0.0177 (95% CI 0.0141, 0.0213) and 0.0163 (95% CI 0.0121, 0.0206) for males and females respectively. The all cause mortality rates for the South African male and female population were 0.0188 and 0.0170 respectively (not significantly different as it falls within the 95% confidence interval of the standardised rates). The predominant natural cause of mortality was infection. Ten of the deaths were due to unnatural causes, of these 7 were suicides. The mortality ratio for unnatural causes was 0.47. CONCLUSION: Mortality studies are important tools for determining quality of health care provisions to patients. Studies of this nature assist in making recommendations for optimal clinical practice and aid in developing preventative measures.