The medical certificate of death, officially known as the Medical Certificate Cause of Death, records the circumstances surrounding the death of an individual. Primarily, it details the cause of death but also often includes other information, such as the date and location of death. The medical certificate of death is a legal record and is used in a variety of ways and for a number of different purposes. These include monitoring different causes of death and measuring the impact of specific illnesses and diseases, registering the death, and providing evidence of death in order to settle the deceased’s estate.

 

Here we take a look at how you get a medical certificate of cause of death, why you need one, how much it costs and and discuss other useful information concerning such certificates.

Why is a medical certificate of death required?

The medical certificate of death is required in order to register a death with the relevant local authorities. Consequently, it’s important that the certificate is not misplaced, lost or damaged. It’s often the case that the medical certificate of death is confused with the similarly named Death Certificate. This certificate is issued to a family after they’ve registered a death and is retained by the local authority as a permanent record of the death.

 

How do I get a medical certificate of cause of death?

The medical certificate of death is signed and issued by a doctor, though precisely which doctor depends on the circumstances surrounding the death.
For instance, if the death occurred at home and was not unexpected, it is likely to be the deceased’s registered doctor. However, if death occurred outside of the home and the emergency services were in attendance, the paramedics or police officers will request the presence of an on-call doctor. This may not be the deceased’s registered doctor and could be a specialist rather than a GP. In all cases, a doctor will attend the death as quickly as possible without putting living patients at risk.

How much does a medical certificate of cause of death cost?

The medical certificate of death is free and you don’t need to pay for it to be signed. The family of the deceased will receive the medical certificate of death from either the doctor who issued it or a member of hospital staff.

 

What happens if a medical certificate of death cannot be issued?

In some cases, a medical certificate of death cannot be issued. Generally, this is because there is some uncertainty as to the exact circumstances surrounding the death. For instance, it may have been sudden and unexpected, violent, occurred during a medical procedure or could have been the result of an industrial accident, disease or poison. In such cases, the deceased will be referred to a coroner who will carry out more detailed examinations. A death may also be referred to the coroner if the deceased was not visited by a doctor in their final illness.

The coroner will try to determine the cause of death and, if they decide an inquest is unnecessary, the doctor may sign the medical certificate of death. If they decide an inquest is required, it is necessary to wait until the process is complete before registering the death.

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