National Vital Statistics System


Births and Fetal Deaths

Applying Best Practices for Reporting Medical and Health Information on Birth Certificates

Applying Best Practices for Reporting Medical and Health Information on Birth Certificates

Discover your role in improving maternal and infant health information in the United States. This course is designed to increase your knowledge of the importance of and best practices for reporting birth certificate and fetal death information. Course content, developed by state and national vital statistics experts, covers the latest national guidelines for reporting this information. Continuing education and certificates of completion are available for this course.

The target audience for this course is physicians, nurses, and non-clinical staff at hospitals or free-standing birthing centers who are responsible for completing the medical and health information for the certificate of live birth and report of fetal death.

Fetal Deaths

Fetal Deaths: Importance – History – Reporting pdf icon[PDF – 1.2 MB]

Improved fetal death data is key for improving maternal and child health. Despite efforts to improve the quality of the data collected, the quality of fetal death data continues to be of concern.

These slides are designed to help improve the quality of fetal death data by offering a comprehensive overview of the importance, history, and reporting of fetal deaths. This training includes information on international reporting of fetal deaths, vital statistics fetal death data, state definitions and reporting requirements, history of fetal death reporting in the U.S., cause of fetal death, data availability, and statistics.


Improving Cause of Death Reporting

Improving Cause-of-Death Reporting

Program Description / Objectives / Instructions for Obtaining Continuing Education

This training will help you better understand why it is important to accurately document the cause of death on the death certificate and how to use your best medical judgment to determine accurate information. The training will discuss how cause of death information is used, how to complete the death certificate, when to refer cases to the coroner or medical examiner, and where to find additional information.

The training will discuss the importance of cause-of-death reporting. What a physician writes in the certificate’s ‘cause-of-death’ section is as important to public health practitioners as what a physician writes in a patient’s medical chart is to patient care. Cause-of-death information is used to detect trends, such as those listed on this screen, that determine public health programs and health care funding allocations. Aside from the public health significance, it is part of a permanent legal record. Physicians must use their best medical judgment to determine the cause-of-death.

Writing Cause of Death Statement Materials

Writing Cause-of-Death Statements

A collection of white papers, reference sheets, publications, handbooks, and special guidelines targeting physicians, medical examiners, and coroners tasked with reporting cause-of-death on the death certificate.

Page last reviewed: June 25, 2021