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Question: When a funeral home is completing the top portion of an amendment affidavit request form, if the decedent's name or place of death is the information being corrected, should the funeral homes enter the information that is being corrected or should they enter the information as it will appear on the corrected record?
Answer: The information at the top of the affidavit should match the original death record, including any errors on the record since the information is used by the person making the correction to match the affidavit to the paper or electronic record. The columns below on the affidavit clearly identify the information that is incorrect prior to the amendment. Likewise, if a medical certifier is amending date of death, the top portion should report the date of death as it currently appears on the record.
Question: Can the funeral director or medical certifier turn in a death report without an affidavit if they strike out incorrect item and initial it?
Answer: We recommend that you go ahead and accept the death record, register it and forward it to the state office assuming that the handwriting for the strikeout item, the new information and the initials all match. The State office will review the change and decide whether an affidavit is required to support the change to the record. Typically we do not accept strikeouts and corrections to change an entry, (for instance in the date of death) but may accept a spelling error correction to a cause of death.
Question: How should we document amendment footnotes if we don’t have a typewriter?
Answer: If a county no longer has a typewriter, it is not possible for the county to complete an amendment since a footnote must be added to the record. It is fine to register the death record and immediately forward it with the affidavit to the state office for amendment. However, no certified copies can be issued until the State office amends it and the footnote is added.
Question: How does the County office amend the medical portion of a death record?
Answer: If you have not been doing amendments to the medical section of death records, please continue sending all medical amendment requests to the Center for Health Statistics. We will complete the amendment and the county can issue or replace certified copies at that time.
If you have been amending the medical section of death records and want to continue doing so, please follow these guidelines:
- You must have a signed affidavit from the medical certifier and must attach the signed affidavit to the amended death record when you mail it to the Center for Health Statistics.
- A footnote briefly describing changed items is required on item #69 before you issue any certified copies of the record. Enter the medical amendment footnote in section #69 of the death record. Never enter the medical amendment footnote in section #45.
- The footnote format should include: brief description of what was changed, date of change, county/deputy registrar's name, and the initials of the person putting in the footnote. Some examples below:
(Example 1) Cause of death (a&b) amended by affidavit, on 10/20/2014, J.A. Smith, county reg., MF (Example 2) Injury information (lines 55-61) amended by affidavit, on 10/20/2014, J.A. Smith, county reg., SB (Example 3) Manner of death amended by affidavit, 10/20/2014, J.A. Smith, county reg., PT (Example 4) Tobacco use amended by affidavit, 10/20/2014, J.A. Smith, county reg., JJ
- Make amendments only to the original death record while it is in the county office. Do not hold a registered record at the county beyond three days even if an amendment is expected.
- Contact the Registration manager at the Center for Health Statistics if you have questions specific questions about medical amendments.
Document retention standards
Question: We regularly do not get the disposition forms from Funeral Homes. What should we do with the 24 hour notice of receipt of body receipt once we have registered the death report if we never received the disposition form from the funeral home?
Answer: There are three documents that should be received for every death:
- 24 hour notice of receipt of body
- Report of Death
- Final disposition form
If everything is proceeding ‘textbook’, the forms will arrive in this order. Once all three documents are received (or fully electronic report of death confirmed in OVERS), the 24 hour notice of receipt of body card and final disposition form can be shredded. Once the Report of Death is registered in OVERS or fourteen days after sending the Report of Death to the state vital records office – whichever happens first – the white copy Report of Death should be shredded.
If you don’t receive the 24 hour notice of receipt of body card but do receive the Report of Death and the Final disposition form, you do not have to contact the funeral home to get the 24 hour notice of receipt of body so that you can shred it. Funeral homes that routinely do not send the 24 hour notice of receipt of body should be contacted by the county and if still not following law, reported to CHS.
If the final disposition form is not received, contact the cemetery or crematory if known (may be on the Report of Death) and ask for the final disposition form. The county may contact the funeral home to follow up with the cemetery or crematory, but the final disposition form would not come from the funeral home directly. It is the responsibility of the person in charge of the place of final disposition to return the form to the county. If the method of final disposition is removal from state, the county can choose not to follow up since laws and procedures vary by state.
Question: How long should I retain applications for birth and death records? Can we scan the order forms for archiving purposes?
Answer: Under OAR 166-300-0025 (3) Financial Records for receipt of funds, either a scanned or paper copy of applications (order forms) that include payment of fees should be retained for six years and then destroyed, unless your county has adopted a longer retention schedule. Scanned applications can be attached to electronic order in OVERS or maintained separately. Applicant information keyed into OVERS will be retained for 75 years under the state retention schedule for electronic application data.
Death record registration process/timeliness
Question: When a Medical Examiner accepts a referral to complete a death report, does this mean the M.E. fills out an affidavit that is sent to the county along with the death report?
Answer: If the Medical Examiner accepts jurisdiction (takes over the Report of Death), the Medical Examiner should complete a replacement record. The replacement record will most likely be a fully electronic record but could be a new paper or hybrid record.
If the Medical Examiner declines jurisdiction for a death report that was completed stating the manner of death as accidental (or the cause of death indicates an accident), the medical certifier should amend the Report of Death to indicate that the Medical Examiner was contacted (item 46 amended to ‘Yes’).
Question: What should the county vital records office do in cases where the County Medical Examiner routinely delays completion of the death report until after an investigation and lab reports are available?
Answer: The State Medical Examiner’s office is in the process of changing their procedures for creating death certificates in cases where a cause of death requires investigation. As a result, we have begun to receive some death records from M.E.s with “pending” stated as the cause of death. When the M.E. lists the cause of death as “pending” they will create a replacement death certificate stating the actual cause of death at a later time when the investigation is concluded.
Although families cannot use certified copies of the report of death with manner or cause of death “pending” for certain purposes (like claiming life insurance benefits) they can use it for other legal purposes. Counties can and should encourage the county Medical Examiner to submit Reports of Death as quickly as possible to meet law and the family’s needs.
Order processing/issuing vital records
Question: The State Public Notary is now accepting expired ID's for notarizing records three years back on expiration. Is the State considering allowing vital record applicants to use ID that has been expired up to 3 years as acceptable proof of identity?
Answer: The Center for Health Statistics does not intend to use the Secretary of State’s policy of accepting ID that has expired up to three years as acceptable proof of identity. We accept a wide range of identification as proof of identity and allow the use of ID’s that have expired as long as the expiration date is 30 days or less from the date of the vital record order. Our list of acceptable proof of identity is available online.
Question: How do we create an order for a replacement copy of a short form death certificate using OVERS when there is no service in OVERS available for replacing short form death certificates?
Answer: Creating orders in OVERS for replacement copies of short form death certificates has been problematic in the past because there was no service for replacement copies of short form death certificates. As of mid-July 2014 OVERS will be updated (version 14.1.2) to provide two services for replacing short copies called “Death Replace CC Short No Fee” and “Death Replace CC Short With Fee”. Using these services allows you to print a short version of the death certificate directly from the record stored in OVERS.
Our Spring 2016 webinar Q&A roundup covers a number of additional topics on issuing vital records, including:
- Acceptance of Matricula cards as proof of ID
- Charging replacement fees for birth records amended by the hospital
- Issuing death records to veterans' offices
- Entering all record orders into OVERS and tracking security paper use
- The amendment process for families who find errors on a birth record
Home births and burials
Question: What are the rules, processes, and procedures that individuals must follow if delivering a baby at home without a CHS registered midwife?
Answer: We are developing information regarding home births to post on our website. In the meantime, individuals can be sent a home birth application upon request. Please direct all questions related to home births to CHS.Amendments@dhsohs.state.or.us.
Question: What are the rules, processes, and procedures that individuals must follow if intending to care for and bury the body of a deceased individual without the assistance of a licensed funeral director?
Answer: We are developing information regarding home burials to post on our website. In the meantime, individuals can be sent information on home burial upon request. Please direct questions about home burials to Megan Welter at Megan.L.Welter@dhsoha.state.or.us or (971) 673-1151.