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icons8-news-96.png Fetal Death

In Oregon, fetal deaths occur infrequently compared to the number of live births each year. Since fetal death is relatively rare and requires different information than reporting a birth, procedures can be confusing and difficult to remember. This web page provides the tools you need to comply with law and ensure the accurate reporting of the event.

​Fetal Death Instructions & Worksheets



Fetal Death FAQ​s

What is a fetal death?

Determining whether a delivery is a fetal death or a live birth is a medical determination made by the birth attendant based on the legal definitions. The legal definition in Oregon law (ORS 432.005) states that “fetal death" means death prior to the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a product of human conception, irrespective of the duration of pregnancy. 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 the voluntary muscles.

What documentation is needed before releasing the remains?

Before the remains are removed from the hospital campus for disposition, hospital staff must complete a disposition permit and give it to the individual who takes the remains from the facility (including the funeral director or parents). The disposition permit is always required regardless of whether a fetal death report is filed if the remains are removed from the hospital.

The disposition permit gives permission to transport the remains to the location of burial or cremation. A cemetery or crematory cannot perform final disposition without the permit. It is available to hospital staff on the OVERS website. See the following picture for its location. 

​ dispositionpermit_1.jpg

When must a fetal death be reported?

Use the 350/20 rule. Many early events of fetal death need not be reported, but according to Oregon law, it is mandatory to report a fetal death if the weight of the fetus is greater than 350 grams. If the delivery weight of the fetus is unknown, a fetal death report must be filed if the gestation period is 20 weeks or greater.

Although it is not mandatory to report a fetal death in instances where the delivery weight is less than 350 grams or, if the weight is unknown, the gestation period is less than 20 weeks, you may file a fetal death report when the fetus does not meet the mandatory reporting criteria.

The Fetal Death Reporting Quick Reference Guide ​provides a decision tree to help you determine whether to report a fetal death.

Who reports the fetal death?

Hospital facility staff report fetal deaths that occurs in a hospital facility. Hospital staff can only file a fetal death report for events that occur on the hospital premises or en route to the hospital.

If the delivery occurred anywhere other than a licensed facility, the fetal death report must be completed by either a physician who attended the delivery or the Medical Examiner if the delivery was not attended by a licensed physician. If the family has brought the fetus to your facility, the facility should contact the Medical Examiner. If the family is contacting your facility by telephone, refer them to the county Medical Examiner.

How are fetal deaths reported?

Hospitals and all persons reporting a fetal death are required to report electronically using the ​Oregon Vital Events Registration System (OVERS).

To collect the medical and personal information needed for the report, use the facility and parent worksheets linked above.​​

icons8-news-96.png Medical Examiner information

The sex designation on the death record includes the following categories:

  • Female

  • Male

  • Undetermined

  • Unknown

  • X

Unknown is used if sex cannot be determined after verification with medical records, inspection of the body, or other sources.

Undetermined is used in cases where the sex cannot be determined due to a medical condition.

X (non-binary) individuals whose gender identity is not exclusively male or female.

Quick Reference Guide for Sex Designation: Death Certificates

​OVERS death registration system includes the ability to confirm a decedent's Social Security Number (SSN) electronically via the Social Security Administration (SSA)'s Online Verification Service (OVS).

SSA OVS availability (Pacific Time)

Monday-Friday 2:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Saturday 2:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. 

Sunday 5:00 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. 

Federal Holidays - Same availability hours as Monday - Sunday for the day on which the holiday occurs ​.

If you are attempting to confirm a social security number outside of the hours shown here, you will likely receive a ‘SYSERROR’ message.

Frequently Asked Questions for Online Verificaton Service (OVS)​​

Question: Why did I continue to receive a “name failure” when all verification attempts imply the name is correct?

Answer: All identifying information must match the SSN provided. If the SSN is a valid number, SSA assumes it’s correct and begins to match against the other identifying information, such as Name and Date of Birth. The SSN provided could belong to a different individual, in which case the name would not match. The user should re-check the SSN as well as the name before resubmitting.

Here are some helpful hints in finding the right SSN:

  • Always take the SSN from the Social Security Card of the decedent, when possible.

  • If the SSN provided is from SSA correspondence or the Medicare Card of the decedent, assume that is the SSN of the decedent only if A, T, TA, M, or M1 follows the number.

Question: What should I do if I continue to receive a failed SSN response?

Answer: Oregon requires the funeral service practitioner to collect and submit the SSN of the decedent. Once the family has been asked and any available documents requested/examined, the funeral service practitioner can sign the Report of Death in OVERS and move forward.

Question: When does the funeral home have to send the SSA 721 form?

Answer: If using OVS in OVERS, the SSA 721 form is not required by the Social Security Administration. (This 2007 letter from CHS and SSA provides more details.) If OVS fails after five attempts, it is a courtesy to the family to send the SSA 721 form to your local Social Security Office but it is not required. The Social Security Administration will receive notice of the death through the daily file even when OVS fails.

Question: I received a response that the system is down or unavailable. When will it be available?

Answer: SSA will accept and process requests for SSN verification 2 a.m. – 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, 2 a.m. – 8 p.m. Saturday, and 5 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. Sunday. OVS is available regular hours on Federal holidays. OVS is not available when maintenance is being performed on the system. A listserv message is sent whenever CHS is notified of scheduled maintenance.

If you receive a SYSERR or other response indicating a connection problem, please contact the OVERS help desk at 971-673-0279.

Question: I tried several name variations with the SSN. OVERS now shows (5) and OVS is inactive. How can I check the SSN?

Answer: SSA allows five attempts to successfully verify an SSN. If unsuccessful, OVS will not allow additional attempts. Continue processing the death record with the best known SSN. As a courtesy to the family, you can fax a SSA 721 form to your local office since the SSA verification through OVS was unsuccessful.

Question: I’ve only tried three times to verify the SSN. Now OVS is locked up and won’t let me submit the SSN for verification.

Answer: While OVS is used to confirm the SSN of the decedent, that is not the official notification of the death. Each day, records with a ‘Personal Valid’ or ‘Personal Valid with Exceptions’ status that have not previously been sent to SSA are extracted into a file that is sent to SSA. OVS is not available after the record has been extracted to SSA.

Question: How is SSA officially notified of a death?

Answer: While OVS is very useful in confirming the SSA of a decedent, the official notice to SSA occurs when records have ‘Personal Valid’ (with or without exceptions) status regardless of whether the record is signed. The records are extracted from OVERS and a file is sent to SSA each work day.

Question: Now I have the correct SSN, but the record was already sent to SSA and registered. How do I submit a correction for the record?

Answer: If the SSN was not confirmed through OVS, the Center for Health Statistics will amend the record based on a correction affidavit (electronic or paper) from the funeral service practitioner.

If the SSN matched the decedent name, date of birth and sex through OVS, the Center for Health Statistics will amend the death record only if documentation (such as the decedent’s SSA card) is also submitted.

We cannot submit a correction to SSA electronically. SSA’s system only accepts a record once. The family can take a certified copy of the amended death record to SSA to show the correct information.​​​

It may seem like a daunting task to implement OVERS at your facility. However, there are only a few key steps that need to be taken to make this process run smoothly. Below you will find information that will help in making sure everything is in place and that nothing is missed.

1.    Establish a Facility Administrator

The facility administrator will be the 'super user' of the system and single point of contact for medical providers with questions when completing a death record.

To sign up, have the facility administrator complete the OVERS Facility Administrator Acknowledgment of Responsibilities Agreement as well as an OVERS Enrollment Form and fax them to CHS.

2.    Submit OVERS enrollment forms for all users

For every user needing an OVERS account, an OVERS Enrollment Form must be completed and submit to CHS. Please keep in mind that it may take 1-2 days for the user account to be completed, so we strongly recommend sending these in as soon as possible.

​3.    Schedule trainings

Facility administrators must complete a mandatory OVERS training to receive their OVERS password.

All other users at a facility are encouraged to complete an initial training and refresher trainings as needed.

Contact our trainer at to schedule a training.