November 20, 2012

Problems with digital death certificates, a doctor's view

Unintended consequences: Moving death certificates to the digital age

In the old paper system someone from the funeral home would bring me the death certificate, I’d complete it  as accurately as I could, and the grieving family could bury their beloved. That has all changed now.  In an attempt to speed the process up and make it more efficient, the state has created a website where I log on and complete the form.  I thought this would be an improvement, and it was presented to me as a way to simplify, expedite and improve the process.  I’m reasonably computer savvy, and so when the first EDRS (electronic death registry service) request came to me I logged on and tried to complete the form.
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In a paper world the medical examiner could have just signed off on the death certificate and all would have been fine.  Now as an unintended consequence of the inflexible nature of this EDRS program, it seems we just have to be selective in our choices of contributing factors on the death certificate so that families can bury their dead and the computer programmers can have the answers they want. I had been told that the new electronic form was to insure more accurate and complete death certificates.  It seems that the result is that only answers the program likes are acceptable causes and contributing factors to death.
Posted by Jill Fallon at November 20, 2012 5:31 PM | Permalink