Streamlining the death certificate process
Working as a coroner for six years and involved in the healthcare system since 1967, I understand the struggle and inconvenience that coroners and healthcare staff face when it comes to current death certificate laws in our state. In Indiana when a person is declared dead within an emergency room, the physician on duty is forced to state the cause of death on the death certificate. If this person resides in another county, or has no primary doctor, the emergency room physician might not have all the needed information to make an accurate decision on the cause of death.
A bill I am authoring to improve death certificate laws in Indiana was supported by the House Committee on Public Health, and a majority of House members approved the proposal. The next step for House Bill (HB) 1088 to become law is for the Senate to consider and support the bill.
My bill would address this issue by providing that if a person dies or is declared dead in the emergency department of a hospital and the emergency department physician is the last doctor in attendance they must try to find the attending physician if available to fill out the death certificate, if not then they that physician will refer the case to the coroner. Once the duties have been passed to the coroner, there will be an investigation conducted into the deceased patient’s medical records. The coroner would then fill out the death certificate and determine the cause and manner of death.
With HB 1088, the right person will be determining an individual’s cause of death, instead of leaving it up to emergency room staff who may not know the identity of their patient, let alone their medical history. By giving coroners the responsibility of recording the cause of death on a death certificate, we are creating a simpler and more accurate way to record the death of an individual. This will expedite the process by identifying the patient, notifying the family and allowing for insurance claims to be handled in a more timely fashion.
I have worked with fellow coroners, the Indiana Health Department, state funeral directors and practicing physicians to create a smoother system for healthcare workers and coroners throughout the state of Indiana. Continue to follow this bill to see if it becomes a law at www.iga.in.gov.
Rep. Bacon (R-Chandler) represents portions of Warrick, Pike, and Spencer counties