Death Registration Resources
A death certificate is a permanent record of the fact of a person’s death. Oklahoma Law stipulates that a death certificate is to be filed within three days after death (63 OS 1-317(a)). The death certificate is prima facie evidence of the fact of death and, therefore, can be introduced in court as evidence when a question about the death arises.
Medical Certifiers, Medical Certifier Assistants, Funeral Directors, and Funeral Director Assistants who would like to sign up for ROVER should contact AskROVER@health.ok.gov or call (405) 426-8686.”
Filing: the presentation of a certificate of birth, death, or stillbirth for registration by the State Commissioner of Health. (63 OS 1-301.3)
Registration: the acceptance by the State Commissioner of Health and the incorporation in his official records of certificates of births, deaths, and stillbirths. (63 OS 1-301.4)
Live birth: the complete expulsion or extraction from the mother of a product of human conception, irrespective of the duration of pregnancy, which, after such expulsion or extraction, breathes or shows any other evidence of life such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord or definite movement of voluntary muscles, whether or not the umbilical cord has been cut or the placenta is attached. (63 OS 1-301.5)
Certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth: a certificate issued to memorialize a stillborn child. 63 OS 1-301.7)
Fetal death (stillbirth): death prior to the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a product of human conception after a period of gestation as prescribed by the State Board of Health. The death is indicated by the fact that, after such expulsion or extraction, the fetus does not breathe or show any other evidence of life such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord or definite movement of voluntary muscles. (63 OS 1-301.8)
Physician: a person who is a member of the class of persons authorized to use the term “physician” pursuant to Section 725.2 of Title 59 of the Oklahoma Statutes. (63 OS 1-301.11)
Institution: any establishment, public or private, which provides inpatient medical, surgical or diagnostic care or treatment, or nursing, custodial or domiciliary care, to two or more unrelated individuals, or to which persons are committed by law. (63 OS 1-301.12)
Immediate cause of death: the final disease, injury (if a medical examiner case) or complication directly causing death. This is reported on line ‘a’ of Item 34. (Physician’s Handbook on Medical Certification of Data, DHHS, CDC, NCHS, 2003 Revision)
Underlying cause of death: the disease (or injury, if a medical examiner case) that initiated the train of morbid events leading directly to death. This is reported on the lowest-used line of Item 34. (Physician’s Handbook on Medical Certification of Data, DHHS, CDC, NCHS, 2003 Revision)
Intervals: the amount of time between the presumed onset of the condition (not the diagnosis of the condition) and the date of death. This is reported in the Approximate Interval column in Item 34. (Physician’s Handbook on Medical Certification of Data, DHHS, CDC, NCHS, 2003 Revision)
Contributing causes of death: other important diseases or conditions that contributed to death but did not result in the underlying cause of death given in Part I. This is reported in Item 35. (Physician’s Handbook on Medical Certification of Data, DHHS, CDC, NCHS, 2003 Revision)
In general, a funeral director's duties are to:
- Complete all required items in the Personal Information section of the death certificate (Items 1 through 24).
- Send certificate to the physician for completion of the Medical Information section (Items 25 through 49).
- Review entire certificate for completeness and accuracy. Address any omissions, errors, and/or discrepancies.
- File the certificate with the State Registrar.
- Notify the medical examiner of any death believed to have been an accident, suicide, homicide, or to have occurred without medical attendance. (63 OS 938)
- Obtain and use all necessary permits for cremation or removal of the body from the state.
- Cooperate with State Registrar concerning any questions on certificate entries.
- Be thoroughly familiar with all Oklahoma laws, rules, and regulations governing vital statistics.
- Call the Vital Records Division for advice and assistance when necessary.
The death certificate is important for three basic reasons:
Legal Reasons: The death certificate is a permanent legal record of the fact of death. Oklahoma law stipulates that a death certificate is to be filed (63 OS 1-317(a)). Therefore, it is a legal requirement. It provides important information about: the decedent, the cause of death, and final disposition. This information is used in the application for insurance benefits, settlement of pension claims, and transfer of title of real and personal property. The certificate is prima facie evidence of the fact of death and, therefore, can be introduced in court as evidence when a question about the death arises.
Personal Reasons: The death certificate in many cases provides family members with closure, peace of mind, and documentation of the cause of death. It also provides peace of mind by facilitating efficient processing of needed benefits as those described above.
Vital Statistics Reasons: The death certificate is the source for state and national mortality statistics. It is needed for a variety of medical and health-related research efforts. It is used to determine which medical conditions receive research and development funding, to set public health goals and policies, and to measure health status at local, state, national, and international levels. This data is valuable as a research tool and by influencing research funding.
Statistical data derived from death certificates can be no more accurate than the information on the certificate. Therefore, it is important that everyone involved with the registration of deaths strives for complete, accurate, and prompt reporting of these events.
In general, the medical certifier's duties are to:
- Be familiar with State regulations on death certifications without medical attendance or involving external causes that may require the physician to report the case to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. (63 OS 938)
- Complete the relevant portions of the death certificate.
- Deliver the signed death certificate to the funeral director promptly so that the funeral director can file it with the State registrar within the three (3) days prescribed by State law.
- Assist the State Registrar by answering any questions promptly.
- Deliver a supplemental report of cause-of-death to the Oklahoma Vital Records Division when autopsy findings or further information reveals the cause of death to be different from what was originally reported.