COVID-19 Death Reporting: Questions and Answers for Medical Examiners, Coroners and Physicians
How should physicians list a COVID-19 death on the death certificate?
Confirmed COVID-19 deaths are to be coded as COVID-19 or Coronavirus-19. Do not use Novel Coronavirus, COVID without 19, COVID-19+ or positive, Coronavirus without 19, SARS, or SARS-CoV or SARS-2.
If the death is a suspected/probable COVID-19 case, should the physician indicate that on the death certificate?
Yes, the physician should list Probable COVID-19 as the Cause of Death in Part I, or if there is a reasonable likelihood that COVID-19 contributed to the death then list COVID-19 as the Cause of Death in Part II.
If the patient was a confirmed COVID-19 case, but COVID-19 contributed to but did not cause the death, such as stroke, how should the death certificate be completed?
The Cause of Death in Part I should be stroke and COVID-19 should be listed in Part II.
If the patient died of Acute Respiratory Failure and had COVID-19, what should the physician include as the Cause of Death?
The physician should include both Acute Respiratory Failure and COVID-19 on separate lines in Part I Cause of Death.
If the patient was a confirmed COVID-19 case, but the cause of death was not related to COVID-19 nor did COVID-19 contribute to the death, how should the physician complete the death certificate?
If COVID-19 was unrelated to the cause of death and not a contributing factor, it should not be included in Part I or II of the death certificate.
If a patient was a confirmed COVID-19 case and the physician determines pneumonia and COVID-19 to be causes of death, how do they complete the death certificate?
Pneumonia and COVID-19 should be listed on separate lines in Part I Cause of Death.
If a Medical Examiner, in their best medical opinion, suspects COVID-19 is the cause of death, should COVID-19 be listed as the cause of death without laboratory test confirmation?
Yes, a Medical Examiner may conclude the cause of death is COVID-19 and list it in Part I of the death certificate.
If a Coroner suspects COVID-19 is the cause of death, should COVID-19 be listed as the cause of death without laboratory test confirmation?
Yes, if COVID-19 is probable or suspected, list “Probable COVID-19” or “Suspected COVID-19” in Part I.
Should a physician, Medical Examiner or Coroner include pre-existing conditions that may increase susceptibility to infection or exacerbate COVID-19, such as COPD or asthma on the death certificate?
Yes, pre-existing conditions that may have increased susceptibility to or exacerbated COVID-19 should be listed in Part II of the death certificate.
How should sepsis be addressed on the death certificate for COVID-19 related deaths?
Sepsis should be listed as the immediate cause of death on line a in Part I and COVID-19 should be listed on line b in Part I.
What happens if the physician, Medical Examiner or Coroner does not complete the Death Certificate Cause of Death correctly for COVID-19?
The Death Certificate Cause of Death will not be reported to the National Center for Health Statistics. The Death Certificate must be corrected by the certifier (physician, Medical Examiner or Coroner). The reprocessing results in a delay in reporting and issuing of Certified Death Certificates for beneficiaries, next of kin, insurance and legal proceedings.
If a physician, Medical Examiner or Coroner does not know how to complete the death certificate or has specific questions about COVID-19 documentation, who should they contact?
The Electronic Death Registry Help Desk can be reached Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm, 601-206-8275 or by e-mail at EDRSHELP@msdh.ms.gov.
Where can Funeral Directors receive guidance regarding COVID-19 best practices?
Where can healthcare facilities receive guidance regarding COVID-19 best practices regarding death?
See the CDC Guidance on Certifying COVID-19 Deaths (PDF).
Who can healthcare facilities contact for COVID-19 death related medical equipment and supplies, such as body bags and test kits?
MSDH Health Facilities Licensure and Certification contacts hospitals and long-term care facilities daily to determine any needs. Other healthcare facilities should contact their County Emergency Management office to request supplies.
Who can coroners contact for COVID-19 death related supplies such as body bags and test kits?
Often laboratories providing COVID-19 testing provide test kits. However if a coroner needs COVID-19 death related supplies, including body bags and test kits, they should request these through the County Emergency Management office.
Who should be contacted if a COVID-19 patient passes away at their residence?
9-1-1 should be contacted.
How do you obtain a Death Certificate for a patient with COVID-19?
Death Certificates can be ordered directly from MSDH Vital Records. Death Certificates can also be obtained from the funeral home that handled a patient’s arrangements.
Find this page at http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/index.cfm