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Eddie August Schneider (1911-1940) death certificate, from autopsy.

A death certificate, sometimes medical certificate of the cause of death (MCCD), is a document issued by a government official such as a registrar of vital statistics that declares the date, location and cause of a person's death.

Contents

Nature of a certificate

Each governmental jurisdiction prescribes the form of the document for use in its preview and the procedures necessary to legally produce it. One purpose of the certificate is to review the cause of death to determine if foul-play occurred it also can rule out an accidental death or a murder going by the findings and ruling of the medical examiner. It may also be required in order to arrange a burial or cremation, to provide prima facie evidence of the fact of death, which can be used to prove a person's will or to claim on a person's life insurance. Lastly, death certificates are used in public health to compile data on leading causes of death among other statistics (See: Descriptive statistics)

Before issuing a death certificate, the authorities usually require a certificate from a physician or coroner to validate the cause of death and the identity of the deceased. In cases where it is not completely clear that a person is dead (usually because their body is being sustained by life support), a neurologist is often called in to verify brain death and to fill out the appropriate documentation. The failure of a physician to immediately submit the required form to the government (to trigger issuance of the death certificate) is often both a crime and cause for loss of one's license to practice. This is because of past scandals in which dead people continued to receive public benefits or voted in elections.[1]

Death certificates may also be issued pursuant to a court order or an executive order in the case of individuals who have been declared dead in absentia. Missing persons and victims of mass disasters (such as the sinking of the RMS Lusitania) may be issued death certificates in one of these manners.

In some jurisdictions, a police officer or a paramedic may be allowed to sign a death certificate under specific circumstances. This is usually when the cause of death seems obvious and no foul play is suspected, such as in extreme old age. In such cases, an autopsy is rarely performed. This varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction; in some areas police officers may sign death certificates for victims of SIDS, but in others all deaths of individuals under 18 must be certified by a physician. Accident deaths where there is no chance of survival (decapitations, for instance) may be certified by police or paramedics, but autopsies are still commonly performed if there is any chance that alcohol or drugs played a role in the accident.

The Shipman case

In the United Kingdom, in 2000, the mass-murderer Doctor Harold Shipman was found to have issued false medical certificates of death, which resulted in death certificates being issued for his victims, without the suspicious circumstances of their deaths coming to light. Following the public enquiry into that case, all medical certificates of death (except those issued in respect of individuals dead in absentia) must now be validated by an independent medical examiner.

Public documents

In the United States and the United Kingdom, death certificates are considered public domain documents and can therefore be obtained for any individual regardless of the requester's relationship to the deceased. Other jurisdictions take a different view, and restrict the issue of certificates.

In the United States, certificates issued to the general public for deaths after 1990 may in some states be redacted to erase the specific cause of death (in cases where death was from natural causes) to comply with HIV confidentiality rules. In New York State, for instance, the cause of death on a general death certificate is only specified if death was accidental, homicide, suicide, or declared in absentia; all other deaths are only referred to as "natural". All states have provisions, however, whereby immediate family members, law enforcement agencies, and governmental authorities (such as occupational health and safety groups) are able to obtain death certificates containing the full cause of death, even in cases of natural death.

Specific jurisdictions

United Kingdom

a UK death certificate, issued in 2004 after post mortem without inquest

Registration in the UK is organised separately in the constituent countries, and also in all crown possessions.

England and Wales

In England and Wales, registration of deaths began in 1837. The death certificate lists when and where a person died, the name and surname, sex, date of birth (or age on older certificates), occupation, address, cause of death, as well as information about the person who reported the death. Beginning in 1874, a doctor’s certificate was necessary for the issuance of a death certificate (prior to that, no cause of death needed to be given).

Scotland

Registration began in 1855. Certificates are rather more detailed than in England and Wales. For example, the maiden surname has always been given for females; this has only been requested information more recently in England and Wales. Additionally, the Scottish death certificates detail the dead person's father's name and mother's maiden name.

Stillbirths

United Kingdom

Since 1927, stillbirths (beyond 24 weeks gestation) have been registered separately, in a register that is closed from public access. A single stillbirth registration takes the place of both birth and death registration for the stillborn infant. Prior to 1960 such certificates gave no cause of death.

Stillbirth certificates can only be ordered by the mother or father of the deceased contacting the General Register Office by phone or letter. In the event of the parents both having died, a sibling can order the certificate if they can provide the dates of death for both parents.

United States

A 2007 article in People magazine revealed that in the case of a stillbirth it is not standard practice to issue both a birth certificate and a death certificate. Most states instead issue a "certificate of stillbirth".

See also

References

External links


Genealogy

Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Familypedia

Eddie August Schneider (1911-1940) death certificate, from autopsy.
Death Certificate is also an album by Ice Cube.

A death certificate is a document issued by a government official such as a registrar of vital statistics that declares the date, location and cause of a person's death.

Contents

Nature of a certificate

Each governmental jurisdiction prescribes the form of the document for use in its purview and the procedures necessary to legally produce it. One purpose of the certificate is to review the cause of death to determine if foul-play occurred. It may also be required in order to arrange a burial or cremation, to prove a person's will or to claim on a person's life insurance.

Before issuing a death certificate, the authorities usually require a certificate from a physician or coroner to validate the cause of death and the identity of the deceased. In cases where it is not completely clear that a person is dead (usually because their body is being sustained by life support), a neurologist is often called in to verify brain death and to fill out the appropriate documentation. The failure of a physician to immediately submit the required form to the government (to trigger issuance of the death certificate) is often both a crime and cause for loss of one's license to practice. This is because of past scandals in which dead people continued to receive public benefits or "voted" in elections.

Death certificates may also be issued pursuant to a court order or an executive order in the case of individuals who have been declared dead in absentia. Missing persons and victims of mass disasters (such as the sinking of the RMS Lusitania) may be issued death certificates in one of these manners.

In some jurisdictions, a police officer is allowed to sign a death certificate. This is usually when the cause of death seems obvious and no foul play is suspected, such as a home accident or SIDS. In such cases, an autopsy is rarely performed.

The Shipman case

In the United Kingdom, in 2000, the mass-murderer Doctor Harold Shipman was found to have issued false medical certificates of death, which resulted in death certificates being issued for his victims, without the suspicious circumstances of their deaths coming to light. Following the public enquiry into that case, all medical certificates of death (except those issued in respect of individuals dead in absentia) must now be validated by an independent medical examiner.

Public documents

In the United States, and the United Kingdom death certificates are considered public domain documents and can therefore be obtained for any individual regardless of the requester's relationship to the deceased. Other jurisdictions take a different view, and restrict the issue of certificates.

In the United States, certificates issued to the general public for deaths after 1990 may in some states be redacted to erase the specific cause of death (in cases where death was from natural causes) to comply with HIV confidentiality rules. In New York State, for instance, the cause of death on a general death certificate is only specified if death was accidental, homicide, suicide, or declared in absentia; all other deaths are only referred to as "natural". All states have provisions, however, whereby immediate family members, law enforcement agencies, and governmental authorities (such as occupational health and safety groups) are able to obtain death certificates containing the full cause of death, even in cases of natural death.

Specific jurisdictions

United Kingom

Copy of an English Death certificate

Registration in the UK is organised separately in the constituent countries, and also in all crown possessions.

England and Wales

In England and Wales, registration of deaths began in 1837. The death certificate lists when and where a person died, the name and surname, sex, date of birth (or age on older certificates), occupation, address, cause of death, as well as information about the person who reported the death. Beginning in 1874, a doctor’s certificate was necessary for the issuance of a death certificate (prior to that, no cause of death needed to be given).

Scotland

Registration began in 1855. Certificates are rather more detailed than in England and Wales. For example, the maiden surname is always given for females.

Stillbirths

United Kingom

Since 1927, Stillbirths (beyond 24 weeks gestation) have been registered separately, in a register that is closed from public access. A single stillbirth registration takes the place of both birth and death registration for the stillborn infant. Prior to 1960 such certificates gave no cause of death.

United States

A 2007 article in People magazine revealed that in the case of a stillbirth, it is not standard practice to issue both a birth certificate and a death certificate. This has caused considerable grief to parents of stillborn babies (for whom the parents had often chosen a name), because they don't become parents unless the baby survives birth, but they still feel grief for an infant that had never officially existed.

See also

External links


This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Death certificate. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.
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This article uses material from the "Death certificate" article on the Genealogy wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.







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