The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) is responsible for publishing Standard Certificates of Birth and Death for the United States of America. The standard certificates are revised roughly every 10 years. The revision process is designed to ensure that the standard certificates meet, as nearly as possible, the use for which they are intended at all levels: individual, local, state, and federal. The authors report on the most recent revision of the U.S. Standard Certificate of Death, recording the process and the role of the National Association of Medical Examiners in the process. Changes recommended during revision include requesting known aliases of a decedent and rearrangement of the certificate to provide more room for those items requesting dates and for describing how the injury occurred. New items have been added asking for information regarding traffic fatalities, the role of tobacco use in causing death, and whether female decedents were pregnant. Once approved by the Department of Health and Human Services, the new standard certificate will be made available to the states. Each state will have 2 years to adapt the U.S. Standard Certificate of Death to its use and to implement new state death certificates on January 1, 2003.
From the National Association of Medical Examiners, Death Certificate Subcommittee, the Department of Pathology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and office of the Coroner/Medical Examiner, Jefferson County, Alabama (G.G.D.), and the Death Certificate Subcommittee, Office of the State Registrar, Office of Health Status Monitoring, Hawaii Department of Health, and the Graduate Faculty, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Hawaii (A.T.O.).
Manuscript received May 3, 2000; accepted May 19, 2000.
Presented in part at the October 1999 meeting of the National Association of Medical Examiners in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Gregory G. Davis, M.D., Jefferson County Coroner, 1515 Sixth Avenue South, Room 611, Birmingham, AL 35233-1601, U.S.A.