Certifying a Death in Vermont

Quick Tips

  1. Focus on the basic pathologic condition
    ex. "Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease" rather than "Congestive heart failure"

  2. Be Concise
    Part I
    A. Acute myocardial infarct
    Due to, or as a consequence of:
    B. Coronary artery atherosclerosis
    rather than
    Part I
    A. Thrombotic occlusion of the left anterior descending coronary artery of the heart

  3. Report causes; avoid mechanisms
    Part I
    A. Alcoholic cirrhosis
    rather than
    Part I
    A. Hepatic encephalopathy

  4. Do not use medical slang or jargon.
    Part I
    A. Cerebral infarct
    Due to, or as a consequence of:
    B. Atherosclerosis Cardiovascular Disease
    rather than
    Part I
    A. Stroke

  5. Do not abbreviate
    Remember most users of Death Certificates have not been to medical school and do not understand some common abbreviations.  Abbreviations will not be accepted by the EDRS.  If you enter an abbreviation, you will receive a message indicating possible meanings and requesting that you spell out the appropriate term.
  6. Be clear, do not convey confusion
    Part I
    A. Atherosclerotic coronary artery disease
    rather than
    Part I
    A. Cardiac asystole probably due to heart attack

  7. Avoid vague descriptions (e.g. massive, catastrophic, etc.)
    No one wants to die from a little infarct but these terms give no information.

  8. "Old Age" and undetermined natural causes are OK.  Although, if you have entered this, be prepared for a phone call from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner asking you to explain the circumstances.

  9. Avoid creating problems or questions
    Part I
    A. Peritonitis
    Due to, or as a consequence of:
    B. Perforated colonic diverticulum
    rather than
    Part I
    A. Cardiovascular collapse
    Due to, or as a consequence of:
    B. Bowel perforation
  10. Separate primary from contributing causes.
    (Part II: Other significant conditions contributing to death but not resulting in the underlying cause given in Part I)

  11. Is the case reportable to the Medical Examiner? 1-888-552-2952
    All cases that have non-natural contributions, no matter how small or how long ago, must be reported to the Medical Examiner. It is better to ask first than to not report. More details

  12. If you have to complete a certification using a paper copy of the Preliminary Report of Death, be sure to please print legibly in black ink.  A good cause of death statement means nothing if it is illegible.
  13. If you have to complete a certification using a paper copy of the Preliminary Report of Death, be sure to clearly print your name below your signature.