Filling Out Death Certificates

  • Have you ever been confronted with a request from a funeral director to sign a Death Certificate for a patient you have not seen in months? Can you sign it? Do you have any choice?
  • If you fill it out, and the information later turns out to be untrue, what liability exposure do you have?
  • How do you know if you should call the Medical Examiner?

If you have ever asked these questions, you are not alone.  The Trust routinely receives calls from physicians with similar questions after a current or former patient dies.  Usually it is because the physician has been contacted by a funeral director who is under the gun and is pressing the physician for a completed Death Certificate.  The Trust will help you work through the request and what is legally required of you on a case by case basis.

For a good overview of the legal requirements and answers to some frequently asked questions, the Department of Health Professions has prepared an excellent tutorial on their website (look under “Announcements” for the link to the presentation).   The tutorial is a 20 minute powerpoint presentation with audio that is well worth reviewing.  There is also a pdf set of the slides available by clicking: Death.Cert.Presentation.

If you have any questions or wish to discuss these issues further, please call the Trust at 296-2100 and ask for Bruce Gehle or Judy Fortinuex.