Certifying a Death in Vermont

This tutorial is designed to familiarize you with death certification and death reporting principles.

All Vermont deaths must be certified using the Electronic Death registry System (EDRS), and you must enroll prior to reporting.  This tutorial does not facilitate enrollment to use the EDRS or address how to use the EDRS application.  To access the required training module for the EDRS or for additional information regarding the EDRS application, click here.

Using the Tutorial

To navigate through the tutorial, select "Continue >>>" at the bottom of each page to proceed to the next page of the tutorial. The links on the right side will guide the user through several additional training modules. Individuals unfamiliar with death certifications principles are encouraged to review the entire tutorial. Although screens used in this tutorial may not look exactly like the actual screens found in the current version of the VT EDRS, the basic principles regarding death certification are the same.

The following procedures should be followed when a physician is asked to certify a death

1. Evaluate if the death is reportable to the medical examiner. Each state has specific laws relating to which cases are reportable to the Medical examiner or Coroner. In VT these are described under 18 V.S.A. § 5205. Also see reportable deaths.

Familiarity with local law is essential. If you are unclear if the death is reportable, it is wise to report it, there is no charge for doing so (1-888-552-2952). If the medical examiner accepts the case then they will certify the death.

If the medical examiner declines jurisdiction and asks you to certify the death, proceed to Step 2. Of course before reporting a case one must know something of the circumstances of the death which may require contacting another physician or reviewing the medical record. (see #2).

2. Evaluate if there is a more appropriate certifier. Physicians are often asked to certify deaths of patients about whom they have little or no personal knowledge. Examples include emergency room physicians, hospitalists, and cross covering physicians.

In these instances contacting the personal or attending physician should be attempted as they may be able to more accurately and completely certify the death. If there is no one more appropriate, proceed to Step 3.

3. Certify the cause of death as accurately as possible.

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