OFFICIAL DEATH RECORDING GUIDANCE AND RESOURCES FOR MEDICAL CERTIFIERS
Official guidance, educational resources and scholarly articles for medical certifiers seeking to better understand the importance of a thorough consideration of the medical facts, upholding investigative integrity and accuracy in cause-of-death reporting.
Click on the link below to complete a few minute online training from the CDC explaining the improvements needed in death reporting and the need for increased accuracy in cause-of-death-determinations.
Guidance For Certifying Deaths Due To Covid
From: Vital Statistics Reporting Guidance Report #3, April 2020
Due to the recent emphasis on COVID-19 in death certificates based on the National Vital Statistics System April 2020 COVID Reporting Guidance, it's important to keep in mind the historic precedence on reporting contagious disease and vaccine-preventable diseases from the Panel to Evaluate U.S. Standard Certificates
Report of The Panel to Evaluate The U.S. Standard Certificates
From: National Center for Health Statistics, April 2000
"..These risk factors do not have to relate to the cause of death. In a previous discussion of risk factors, the Subgroup agreed that it was important that there be a direct connection between conditions/risk factors and the cause of death. The death certificate is not a medical record, and it is not intended to collect prevalence data."
Instructions For Completing The Cause of Death Section of the Death Certificate
From: National Center for Health Statistics
"Part II is for reporting all other significant diseases, conditions, or injuries that contributed to death but which did not result in the underlying cause of death given in Part I. The cause-of-death information should be YOUR best medical OPINION. A condition can be listed as “probable” even if it has not been definitively diagnosed."
A Guide For Manner of Death Classification
From: National Association of Medical Examiners, Feb. 2002
"It is important to remember that these “facts” only represent the certifier’s opinion and are not written in stone or legally binding. Information on the death certificate may be changed, if needed."
Cause Of Death Statements and Certification of Natural and Unnatural Deaths
From: College of American Pathologists 1997
"There are a number of situations in which the complications of an underlying cause of death may clinically overshadow the underlying condition itself, resulting in the certifier forgetting to include the underlying cause in the cause-of-death statement.
DOWNLOAD THE CDC APP
From: The App Store and Google Play
The Cause of Death Mobile Application is a quick reference guide designed to acquaint physicians, medical students, and others with the vital registration system in the United States.
Provides instructions and examples of how to fill out a death certificate.
Emphasizes the certification of medical information, the primary responsibility of the physician and a critical piece of information on the death certificate.
Physicians' Handbook on Medical Certification of Death
"If completed properly, the cause of death will communicate the same essential information that a case history would...
...In some cases, the physician will be contacted to verify information reported on a death certificate or to provide additional information to clarify what was meant. The original cause-of-death statement may not be wrong from a clinical standpoint, but may not include sufficient information for assigning codes for statistical purposes. Following guidelines in this handbook should minimize the frequency with which a physician will need to spend additional time answering follow-up questions about a patient’s cause of death."