September 2015 Vital Records News

September 2015

Vital Records News

Emergency order for certificate paper

Vital records offices in short supply of security paper will get the certificates they need through an emergency order. After unexpected complications in the contracting process delayed awarding a contract to a vendor to supply vital record security paper to the State of Minnesota, the Office of Vital Records (OVR) identified a Minnesota company that could meet all the required specifications in the contract solicitation and provide certificates on short notice.

Northstar, based in Brooklyn Park, Minn., helped OVR prevent a paper crisis. They worked with OVR to print enough certificates to meet the immediate needs of the 22 issuance offices, including OVR, that had an insufficient supply of paper to meet the estimated demand for certificates over the next 60 days.

 “Twenty percent of our issuance offices were nearing a shortage crisis. We had to act fast,” said Molly Crawford, State Registrar. “Finding alternatives such as rationing the number of certificates per customer, delaying the fulfillment of orders, or sending customers away to neighboring counties for service was unacceptable.” Northstar printed more than 60,000 Minnesota certificates, numbered them with each offices’ unique prefix code and appropriate document control number range, and shipped them directly to the offices across the state in a week’s time.

The paper supply issue began mid-June when the vendor that had supplied Minnesota and other states including California, Arizona, North Carolina, and the City of New York, ceased operations without notice. Early information indicated that printing would resume. But after several weeks, it became clear that OVR needed to move on.

OVR has been working with the Minnesota Department of Administration, the contracting arm of state government, to publish a request for proposals to solicit interested vendors. OVR wants to continue a state contract that allows one vendor to print all of the certificate paper to meet the needs of the 110 issuance offices. A single contract assures that the certificates are uniform and that all offices get the best price based on statewide volume.

OVR and representatives from the Department of Administration will be reviewing and evaluating proposals. A vendor to supply certificate paper under contract to vital record issuance offices across Minnesota will be identified soon. OVR expects to have a new contract in place by mid-September.

In the meantime, the state and county offices will issue birth and death certificates without delay. OVR continues to monitor the supply and is confident that with the emergency print order, all offices will be able to meet the anticipated demand for documents. Service delivery and fulfillment of customer requests should continue uninterrupted. OVR will share more information about the contract as soon as it is in place.

Contact the Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Vital Records, Molly Crawford at 651-201-5972 or by Email at if you have questions.

Completing cause of death: Assigning or re-assigning medical certifiers

When registering a death, search for medical certifiers using the first few letters of the last and first names. If you can’t find the medical certifier with this technique, please do not enter the medical certifier information into MR&C on your own. Free-form entry of medical certifier information stores unverified and sometimes incorrect and duplicative information. These entries are also available to other funeral home users. The Office of Vital Records (OVR) wants just one listing per medical certifier, to have the correct medical certifier chosen from the drop-down search results and MR&C physician users to get email notifications from MR&C that prompt them to complete the cause of death.

Email or call MR&C Support (1-888-692-2733) to request that the medical certifier be added to the MR&C physician table. Provide the name of the medical certifier, and if you have it, his/her license number and office location. OVR will quickly add medical certifiers so that their names can be chosen from the search results. Letting OVR add medical certifiers to the MR&C physician table assures that medical certifier information that prints on the death certificate is standardized and accurate. Please work with us to make sure that MR&C works optimally for everyone!

Physician visits: an important factor in death registration

The date that a decedent last saw their physician is important data element for the death record. Up until recently, the electronic vital records registration system, Minnesota Registration & Certification (MR&C), allowed this element to receive little attention. With recent programming changes, the Office of Vital Records (OVR) now is requiring medical certifiers to provide a date when they last saw the decedent. No longer is the response, “unknown,” acceptable.

Through multiple quality improvement efforts, OVR is working with its information technology staff to error-proof the MR&C System. Part of that error-proofing activity is to program the system to work in accordance with state and federal requirements.

Laws affecting medical examiner duties contributed to this recent MR&C change. Minnesota Statutes, section 390.11, Subdivision 1, details information about investigations and reports of death. The statute states: 

“All sudden or unexpected deaths and all deaths that may be due entirely or in part to any factor other than natural disease processes must be promptly reported to the coroner or medical examiner for evaluation. Sufficient information must be provided to the coroner or medical examiner.”

The types of deaths that are reportable are named, but not limited to what is listed in the statute, including item 14:  “…deaths of persons not seen by their physician within 120 days of demise...”

Since the programmatic change in August, medical certifiers must enter the date that they last saw the decedent. If that date is greater than 120 days in the past, MR&C now prompts the medical certifier to check the accuracy of the date and report the death to the medical examiner if the date is correct.

In 2014, almost 27 percent of the death records filed had ‘unknown’ for the date that the medical certifier last saw the decedent. Up until the change in August, 2015, more than 25 percent of the death records filed this year had this data element as unknown.



September: OVR presenting at Minnesota Funeral Directors Association Regional Meetings

September 17-18: OVR exhibit and presentation at 32nd Annual Forensic Science Seminar

September 30: Training for United Hospital birth registrars

October 6-7: OVR exhibit and presentation at the Minnesota Family Support and Recovery Council (MFSRC) Conference

Coming in November: Training for new birth registrars with less than six months experience.


Birth registrars: The pre-pregnancy weight and delivery weight fields are often switched when births are registered. Pregnancy weight loss results in the birth record being returned to OVR from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) for investigation and correction.

Funeral directors: Additional steps are required to register the deaths of babies who live only minutes, hours or days because the time of birth is not included on the death record. If the baby is alive for less than 24 hours, check the appropriate box ('Minutes' or 'Hours') and enter the number of minutes or hours of life. If a baby lives for 24 hours or more, check the 'Days' box and enter the number of days.



State Registrar
Molly Mulcahy Crawford

Deputy State Registrar
Heidi Granlund

Issuance Unit Supervisor and Anti-Fraud Coordinator
Brenda Shinaul

Registration & Amendments Supervisor
Krista Bauer

Adoptions & Birth Amendments
Birth Certificates
Death Amendments
Death Certificates
Local Issuance Help
MR&C Help