November 2018 Vital Records News

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Vital Records News

November 2018

New Birth Registration Performance Report Available

The Office of Vital Records (OVR) is excited to announce an interactive performance report about birth registration available on the Minnesota Department of Health Birth and Fetal Death Registration Information for Hospital Staff webpage. Anyone, especially birth registrars and other professionals who collect and register Minnesota birth record information, can generate a one-page report specific to each Minnesota birthing facility.

The report shows filing timeliness for the birth facility compared to all Minnesota birthing facilities. In addition, the report compares the percentage of records filed at the facility with missing (unknown) data items to all Minnesota birth facilities and to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) quality thresholds for those data items. The report also highlights how the facility ranks statewide by number of births during the report period and the average number of days to register a record. This interactive report allows the user to select any facility, view, download and save reports.

There are two reports. One is for births registered during the third quarter of 2018. The other is for births registered during the first three quarters of 2018 (January-September). In the future, OVR will add reports for each quarter and provide reports containing cumulative quarters for each year. Reporting performance information back to facilities is a priority for OVR’s continuous improvement efforts. This interactive report is a step forward.

OVR sends data from birth records to NCHS at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Public health relies on complete, accurate and timely vital record data.

The Minnesota Department of Health and its public health partners use vital events data to observe trends, tailor prevention and intervention programming, identify emerging public health issues, and monitor progress in addressing health disparities. Public health practitioners, researchers, and health policy-makers use vital records data. The Minnesota Vital Statistics System, part of Minnesota Center for Health Statistics (MCHS) compiles statistical data for Minnesota using information from vital records. In addition, the National Vital Statistics System, also at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention produces the nation’s official vital statistics. Find birth statistics at National Vital Statistics System - Birth Data.

The Office of Vital Records (OVR) and MCHS collaborated to produce this performance report.

Setting the table

setting the table

Setting and clearing the table will be important for many Thanksgiving meals this month and these activities are key to an efficient statewide vital records system.

When using Minnesota Registration and Certification (MR&C), have you ever noticed how many dropdown lists you use to register a birth, death, or fetal death record, or enter a customer service request? Have you ever wondered where the information in these lists comes from or how it can be magically available to you when you need it?

To facilitate timely registration and ease of filing, the Office of Vital Records (OVR) manages lists of people, offices, and institutions in MR&C in what we call “code tables”. These tables include information about birth attendants, medical certifiers (physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, physician assistants), morticians, funeral homes, health care facilities, cemeteries, and local vital records issuance offices, among others. OVR staff work daily to maintain accurate and current information in the code tables so MR&C users have the information they need to register vital events.

In 2017, as part of the Paper Cut Project, OVR focused on updating the MR&C code tables used in death registration. The project team removed hundreds of medical certifiers from the dropdown list whose licenses were inactive or suspended. Team members also met with licensed and certified health care facility experts in the Minnesota Department of Health’s Health Regulation Division to ensure that the nursing homes, supervised living facilities, and boarding care homes were properly named and categorized in MR&C. Assisted living and memory care facilities are included under the nursing home category.  

Recording and counting who did what where on each vital record in MR&C is important. If you are working in MR&C and cannot find the person, facility, institution, or office that you need in a dropdown list, contact OVR. Email OVR at with the information you need added to a table. OVR staff respond to these requests throughout the day. MR&C does not prevent you from selecting “Other” and entering the information yourself, but the best practice is for OVR to update the appropriate table so that MR&C functions efficiently for all users.

If you are a birth registrar and want to review the birth attendants currently listed in MR&C for your facility, you can get a list by emailing  

Family gatherings: an opportunity to talk about family health

As we approach that time of year when many families celebrate together, think about the value of sharing your health information. Established in 2004 and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Family Health History Day is celebrated on Thanksgiving.

Common diseases can run in families. Knowing about those diseases and the causes of death for previous family members, helps blood relatives predict disorders for which they may be at risk and take action to stay healthy. See the United States Surgeon General’s Family Health History Initiative to find information and tools to help you start the conversation, discuss health, and record the health histories and problems that run in your family.


Infographic from the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Validation Project to Examine Data on Fetal Death Reports

Beginning later in November, the Office of Vital Records (OVR) and the Birth Defects Program at the Minnesota Department of Health will validate fetal death data. Together, staff will examine the accuracy and completeness of the reported data; confirm the receipt of all fetal death reports; and, look for any fetal deaths misclassified as a live birth followed by an infant death. The project will also follow up on fetal death reports indicating a planned autopsy or placental exam to see if the facility received the results and updated the fetal death reports in Minnesota Registration & Certification (MR&C) with the results. Identifying congenital anomalies associated with fetal deaths is key to the project. The project will focus on fetal death reports made by selected facilities associated with two health care systems between August and October 2018.

After OVR receives the audit report from the validation project, we plan to use the information to guide technical assistance and meet the training needs of facilities and staff who report fetal deaths. The information will also inform OVR quality improvement activities and decisions about data elements currently included in Minnesota fetal death reporting that the National Center for Health Statistics no longer requires.

Training for new vital record issuance staff offered in Southeastern Minnesota

Learning a new job while serving the public can be challenging, especially when your job involves a lot of laws and a duty to protect non-public information. Our statewide system of vital records is complicated. To help county professionals new to issuing vital records certificates and reports, the Office of Vital Records (OVR) is hosting a new interactive class. Come meet other professionals and learn through discussion, presentations by OVR staff, and hands-on exercises in the electronic vital records system, Minnesota Registration & Certification (MR&C). OVR's experienced educators will explain the laws that that apply to vital records. They will also explain the processes used at hospitals, funeral homes, medical examiner and coroner offices to register vital events and create records. Finally, they will share tips on how to work with those partners and serve customers.

The free class is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, November 27, 2018, at the Mower County Government Center in Austin, MN. It includes a break for lunch on your own. Participants must bring a Wi-Fi enabled laptop computer to class in order to complete exercises and practice in the MR&C TRAIN system. Space is limited and preregistration is required. Register online at MDH Learning Management (

Learning objectives

  • Describe the differences between public, private and confidential data
  • Identify your role in the statewide vital records system
  • Understand your responsibilities related to protecting data, security and processes
  • Apply MR&C tips and lessons to work more efficiently

OVR is offering this one-time class to inform development of online courses. Please watch the newsletter for announcements about other upcoming training opportunities.


When a dead body moves

Grandpa Joe died in WWII in 1944. Joe’s family buried him in the small church cemetery. Grandma Judy, his wife, is now in hospice. She knows her time is dwindling and would like her final resting place to be with Grandpa. Grandpa Joe’s cemetery has no plots available. Still, the family wants to grant Grandma her wish and bury her beside Grandpa. The family visits the local funeral home to ask if there is any way to bury the two side-by-side. The mortician may recommend disinterment and re-interment of Grandpa Joe’s remains as an option to fulfill Grandma’s wish.

There are many reasons someone may want to disinter and reinter the dead. Families may want to relocate their loved one to another part of a cemetery or to an entirely different cemetery. They may want their loved ones near each other, or possibly cremated and consolidated into a single plot.

Moving a loved one after burial is an endeavor. Minnesota Statutes, section 149A.96 Disinterment and Reinterment explains the regulations about disinterment and reinterment, including who has the right to control final disposition of the body or remains. A licensed mortician must issue a disinterment-reinterment permit. Disinterment-reinterment requires specialized equipment and associated fees.

The electronic vital records system, Minnesota Registration & Certification (MR&C), allows funeral home staff to create and issue a disinterment permit. You can find this option in MR&C under ‘Tasks’ in the ‘death module’. Once you select ‘Disinterment permits’ and click ‘Create new disinterment permit’, MR&C prompts you to enter data including the current location of the decedent, the new cemetery location, and dates of completion. Print the completed disinterment permit for the individual in charge of disinterment-reinterment to sign and present to the cemetery supervisor.

Creating a disinterment permit does not change the decedent’s death record. Cemetery information is part of a legal death record. OVR recommends amending the death record so that the disposition and burial information is accurate. Future generations may be interested or need this information. Funeral establishments involved in disinterments and reinterments may want to encourage families to amend the death certificate and build the $40 amendment fee into their costs.

For more information about the regulations and requirements for the final disposition of a dead human body in Minnesota, see the Choices manual on the Minnesota Department of Health Mortuary Science website.