Dead cert: a guide to death certificates
Death is a daunting thing. And to make it worse, certifying someone dead can be terrifying, as Jean Adams found out. Sabina Dosani gives a step by step guide to one of those skills you just never seem to be taught at medical school
A death certificate, or more correctly, a certificate for registration of death, is the document used to register death. Without one, funerals cannot go ahead. Filling out your first death certificate can be a daunting task. It is important to learn how to do it correctly as errors may result in a delayed funeral and cause further distress to bereaved relatives.
A doctor may complete a certificate for registration of a death only if he or she has been in attendance on the deceased during the last illness and has seen the deceased within 14 days of death or after death. If no doctor meets these criteria the coroner is informed in England and Wales. In Scotland, it is the procurator fiscal who has a duty to investigate all sudden, suspicious, accidental, unexplained and unexpected deaths, and any death occurring in circumstances that would give rise to serious public concern.