October 2015 Vital Records News

October 2015

Vital Records News

Minnesota health statistics 2014 annual summary now available

Registering vital events and issuing certified copies of birth and death records are important functions of the Office of Vital Records (OVR). Long-term, the demographic and medical information contained within birth and death records is extremely useful to public health. Public health programs use birth records to target their services to those who would most benefit and to analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of their programs. Vital records can be used to identify health inequities and the resulting data used to apply for grants and develop programs and policies to address the issues that are identified.

Minnesota Registration & Certification (MR&C) is a dynamic system with corrections, amendments, late filings and other changes made to records. Vital records can provide real-time information, but the information is not ideal to use for data and research. For statistical use, it is important that numbers be consistent over time. Thus, after the close of a calendar year when the Office of Vital Records is sure that all records have been filed, with the exception of home births which can be filed up to a year after the birth, staff of the Minnesota Center for Health Statistics (MCHS) create birth, death and fetal death statistical files that then become part of our historical vital records datasets. These datasets are considered to be the ‘final’ data for a calendar year and are subsequently used to create the data tables that are published on our website and to provide data to public health and other data users.

Before the files are ready to be used as final data, MCHS cleans records in addition to edits already done within MR&C and by OVR staff. MCHS staff examine the cause of death coded fields and check to be sure that all records have been coded with valid ICD-10 (10th Revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases) codes. Cross-checks are done on items such as cause of death, gender and age – for example, no females dying from prostate cancer or no infants with suicide cause codes. MCHS also checks entries in the free-form spaces for entering other race designations and matches any to the existing MR&C check boxes.

After MCHS accomplishes these validations and clean up checks, the birth and death files are considered to be the final data for the year. MCHS usually publishes the annual data tables on the MDH web site in late September.

For data about 2014, see the Minnesota Health Statistics Annual Summary and Minnesota County Health Tables. Please visit the site to view these publications and to take a look at other data and statistics available from Minnesota Center for Health Statistics. MCHS is part of the Minnesota Department of Health, Center for Health Equity which was established in 2013 to advance health equity.

OVR sends de-identified vital records data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) on a daily basis. Under the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program contract with CDC, Minnesota’s vital records data is included in the national dataset available for public health and other purposes. Like MCHS, NCHS finalizes annual data and recently released its brief, Births in the United States, 2014.

Security paper contract awarded

The Office of Vital Records (OVR) is pleased to announce that the Minnesota Department of Administration has awarded a contract to Northstar to supply vital records certificate paper for the State of Minnesota. The Office of Vital Records and Northstar are formalizing a process for issuance offices to place orders for certificate paper, report problems, and address customer service needs. More information including forms and instructions will be available soon. If your office is low (4 weeks or fewer) of a paper reserve, email OVR at molly.crawford@state.mn.us for special instructions.

The state contract allows all vital records offices to place orders and purchase paper from a single source to maximize volume pricing and to assure that Minnesota birth and death certificates are uniform. About 500,000 certificates are issued annually from the 110 vital records offices statewide. Northstar will follow the contract specifications for packaging paper bundles, delivery notification, and printing time.

Northstar will print Minnesota’s paper using an off-set printing method which produces an authentic, but smooth document. Intaglio printing, which had been used in Minnesota and was supplied by the previous vendor, produced an engraved, raised border and state seal. The new certificate paper will be valid without the raised or embossed seal and incorporate a single overt security thread visible as a line that will run from the top to the bottom of the paper as required by the contract. OVR has notified the United States Department of State and the Social Security Administration of the change so that they are aware of and accept the certificate paper with the new look and feel.

Before a contract could be put in place, the Office of Vital Records placed an emergency order for security paper to assure that all offices could fulfill requests for certificates and provide uninterrupted customer service. Northstar handled the emergency order and shipped supplies to 22 locations including the Office of Vital Records in mid-September.

Northstar partners with AmeriTech Inc. to supply vital records paper to many jurisdictions including New York City, Louisiana, and North Carolina. Northstar will incorporate multiple security features into the paper that is manufactured in the United States. The vital records paper will be printed in Brooklyn Park, MN according to Minnesota specifications.

MR&C work queue improvements and consolidation

As part of a continuous quality improvement effort, OVR made changes to the work queues. A queue is roughly defined as a line of people awaiting their turn or a list of things stored in order. In the Minnesota Registration & Certification system (MR&C), birth and death record work queues list vital records and tasks specific to user’s specific business needs. What this means is that the funeral director using MR&C will access a different work queue from the birth registrar at the hospital, the local issuance office user or the state user.

Now, MR&C work queues are easier to find and easier to use. Work queues are located in MR&C on the left side of the Home, Birth, Death, and Customer Service screens under the Tasks menu. Starting an MR&C session with a quick peek at the work queue is a best-practice recommendation; the work queue displays all the records or requests needing your attention.

Some users have access to multiple queues for multiple activities and some have just a single queue. If a queue you usually see is missing, don’t worry. MR&C displays your work queue only when there are records or requests waiting for your attention.

New to MR&C is a “return to work queue” link in the Tasks menu. This link brings the user back from the record they worked on to the most recent work queue. This feature makes it easier to accomplish your work and handle multiple records or requests. OVR also consolidated some work queues so that records needing cause of death were not separated by disposition choice.

Next time you log into MR&C, look for the work queue! Monitoring your work queue helps you quickly identify any record or task awaiting completion.

Regional funeral directors meetings valuable

The Minnesota Funeral Directors Association (MFDA) invited the Office of Vital Records (OVR) to present information at their fall regional meetings. OVR staff attended all nine of the meetings from Slayton in the Southwest to Chisholm in the Northeast. According to Molly Crawford, State Registrar, the meetings were “the perfect venue to share OVR’s renewed focus on death registration and highlight new MR&C programming to help navigation and error-proof the system.” She added that the opportunity to be on the agenda allowed OVR to reacquaint itself with funeral directors and morticians and to establish new relationships. OVR highlighted the new and revised notifications from MR&C to help track the status of death records through completion, the push to eliminate the paper processing and maximize use of the MR&C system, and get stakeholder feedback and input for future improvements. Because of the interest in information from OVR, MFDA requested more vital record information be shared at the annual state conference. OVR will present and exhibit at the May 2016 event.

An additional meeting is planned for non-member funeral directors and morticians in the Rochester area on December 8. OVR is working with Shaun Heath at the Mayo Department of Anatomy to set the agenda and details. Look for more information.


October 19: OVR will participate in a panel discussion at the Minnesota Fathers & Families Network Fall Seminar Series.

BIRTH REGISTRATION 101: November 10, 8:00 AM-Noon or November 12, Noon-4:00 PM at the MDH Freeman Building in St. Paul. This entry-level, hands-on class is for birth registrars who have less than six months experience and those who need a foundational review. To register, send an email to: health.MRCAdmin@state.mn.us

THE FIVE R'S OF DEATH DOCUMENTATION: Rules, Requirements, and Resources for Recording and Registering Minnesota Deaths, in mid-November, date and time to be determined, at the Mortuary Science Building on the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis campus. This class is approved for 3 CEUs in Regulation and Ethics for Funeral Directors, Morticians, and their staff. It provides an overview of death registration  and tips to maximize use of the MR&C system. The class includes lecture, MR&C hands-on, and discussion. No cost to attend. To inquire, send an email to: :


Birth registrars: Know your scores! Only the 5-minute Apgar score, and, if applicable, the 10-minute Apgar score should be reported on the birth record. Your hospital may do a one-minute Apgar test, but the one-minute result should not be entered into MR&C for the official birth record.


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