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Commentary by Shrujal Baxi MD, NYU Chief Resident
Completing death certificates sounds like an easy task, but anyone who has been hounded by the medical records partment knows just how hard it can be. After you fill in all the names, dates and addresses legibly, comes the real challenge: determining a cause of death. As many of you already know, “cardiopulmonary arrest” is not acceptable. So what is acceptable and why does it matter?
Groups like the CDC and Medicare rely on death certificates to determine vital mortality statistics in our country and determine how future resources will be allocated. What we write IS important. So, check out this website sponsored by the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) which offers a great tutorial on how to complete death certificates appropriately. You will be surprised to see how specific they want us to be.