Completing a death certificate
Authors: Jennifer Hall
Publication date: 29 May 2004
The death certificate provides legal evidence of death. It enables the patient's family to register the death and make arrangements for disposal of the body. Mortality statistics derived from death certification data are vital for public health surveillance and resource allocation in the NHS. Here are some tips on how to do it properly (in England).
You can issue a death certificate if:
The death does not require referral to the coroner (referral indications are listed on the back of the form).
Certificate of stillbirth (form 34)—death of infant born after 24th week of pregnancy which did not breathe or show any other signs of life at any time after being expelled from its mother.
Filling in the form:
Cause of death: if you are unsure, ask for advice from
senior colleagues or ring the registrar.
Part Ia—state the disease or pathological disorder leading to death—for example, myocardial infarction. It is not the mode of dying—for example, cardiac arrest. Parts Ib and Ic—state diseases underlying part Ia—for example, ischaemic heart disease.
Part II—state diseases that may have contributed to the death but were not part of the main causal sequence—that is, part I.
Residence—state your professional address Complete the counterfoil for your records and seal the certificate in an envelope Complete the “notice to the informant” and give it to the relatives.
You are legally responsible for delivery of the certificate to the registrar. You may do this personally or by post, or you may ask the relatives to deliver it on your behalf.
P+ Go to web extra on bmjcareers.com/careerfocus for further information
Jennifer Hall senior house officer
Cite this as BMJ Careers ; doi: