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Death Certificate

Author: Lindsey Harle, M.D. (see Reviewers page)
Revised: 8 February 2012, last major update February 2012
Copyright: (c) 2012, PathologyOutlines.com, Inc.


● To legally document that death occurred
● To provide mortality statistics for public health purposes, which influences allocation of funding for research and public health initiatives

Certifier of death

● Physician, medical examiner, or coroner who completes the “cause of death” section on the death certificate, including information regarding the circumstances of death
● Cause of death and circumstances represent the certifier’s opinion
● Not legally binding, and can be changed if new information regarding the death is introduced

How to complete the death certificate

● The cause of death should always be listed
● If an acute mechanism of death is known, this can be stated as the primary cause of death; the underlying cause of death should always be listed below

● Incorrect cause of death: Respiratory arrest
● Correct cause of death: Complications of pneumonia or respiratory arrest due to pneumonia

● Incorrect cause of death: Cardiac arrest
● Correct cause of death: Acute myocardial infarction or cardiac arrest due to acute myocardial infarction

End of Forensics > Death Certificate

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