The national sentinel clinical audit of epilepsy related death: Epilepsy – Death in the shadows

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Hanna N, Black M, Sander J, Smithson W, Appleton R, Brown S, Fish D et al.(2002) The national sentinel clinical audit of epilepsy related death: Epilepsy – Death in the shadows.

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Foreword: We warmly welcome this landmark report and congratulate Epilepsy Bereaved for its project management of the National Sentinel Clinical Audit of Epilepsy Deaths. We thank Epilepsy Bereaved on behalf of the UK Health Departments for championing sudden unexpected death in epilepsy and for successfully co-ordinating this multidisciplinary and wide-ranging project. National sentinel audits are comprehensive clinical audits recently introduced in the NHS. This audit of epilepsy deaths will enable health professionals locally to review their practice and address any developmental needs. Epilepsy is the most common chronic disabling condition of the nervous system affecting around 400,000 people in the UK. Almost 1,000 deaths occur every year as result of the illness and most of them are associated with seizures. There has been a need for some time to better understand and reduce the number of epilepsy deaths. This important and carefully executed piece of work focuses on that need. It reveals weaknesses in both clinical service and aspects of the treatment infrastructure. It shows that by addressing poor epilepsy management, there is the potential to achieve a reduction in the number of deaths. The audit was sponsored by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), and the health departments of the devolved administrations. A short summary report for England and Wales, published by NICE, is also available. A similar short report is going to be published by Epilepsy Bereaved and this will be disseminated in Scotland and Northern Ireland. We recommend this report, which will be available widely to the National Health Service. We also give a commitment to consider what can be done to address the weaknesses in care it identifies. By doing this we will demonstrate that by taking action now, lives may be saved.


  • Book-length report of comprehensive national audit on epilepsy.