National Vital Statistics System

Writing Cause-of-Death Statements

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Cause-of-death statements on death certificates capture the sequence of events leading to death, plus the time interval between the onset of each condition and death. When a death occurs, a certifier must determine the cause(s) of death and accurately report it on the death certificate.

Guidelines for who can certify a death can vary by jurisdiction, but the certifier is typically a physician, medical examiner, or coroner. This page contains general and topic-specific guidance to help medical certifiers correctly report the cause(s) of death on the death certificate.

Specific Topics of Interest

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Page last reviewed: September 23, 2021