Writing Cause-of-Death Statements
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
- A Reference Guide for Completing the Death Certificate for Drug Toxicity Deaths
- Investigation and Certification of Drug Toxicity Deaths – CDC Web Based Training
- Position Paper: Recommendations for the Investigation, Diagnosis, and Certification of Deaths Related to Opioid and Other Drugs
- Improving Drug Specificity and Completeness on Death Certificates for Overdose Deaths: Opportunities and Challenges for States
- Recommendations and Lessons Learned for Improved Reporting of Drug Overdose Deaths on Death Certificates
- CDC Toolkit: Death Scene Investigation After Natural Disaster or Other Weather-Related Events
- Best Practices in Assessing Mortality and Significant Morbidity Following Large-Scale Disasters, National Academy of Sciences (scroll for presentations)
- CDC Activities to Improve State and Local Fatality Management and Disaster-related Mortality Reporting Practices
- A Reference Guide for Certification of Deaths in the Event of a Natural, Human-induced, or Chemical/Radiological Disaster