December 2018 Vital Records News

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Vital Records News

December 2018

CDC online training module for medical certifiers 

improving cause of death reporting screen shot

Because of the importance of accurate cause of death reporting, the CDC offers Improving Cause of Death Reporting, a short online training module meant for physicians, advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants. The module covers mechanism of death versus cause of death, arranging the cause of death statement, and referrals of deaths to a medical examiner or coroner. A link to the training is also available on the Office of Vital Records Death Registration Information Additional Resources webpage.

Death certificates are permanent legal records; reporting the cause of death accurately is important to families and to public health. Families use these permanent legal records to settle the affairs of their loved ones and to obtain insurance, veterans’ and retirement benefits. Medical certifiers fulfill an important final step in completing a patient’s care by providing cause of death for the death certificate.

While cause of death information is important to the decedent’s family, the significance of cause of death data extends beyond the death certificate. Cause of death data is the source of state and national mortality statistics that guide decisions about medical conditions that receive research and development funding, and help measure health status at local, state, national, and international levels.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies use cause of death data to:

  • Identify community health concerns
  • Carry out disease surveillance – e.g., influenza, pneumonia, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis
  • Conduct research – information is sent to the National Death Index and is used in studies
  • Determine health spending


Fees essential to operations and service

Persons requesting Minnesota vital records documents must pay a fee to obtain the documents they want. Requesters must be eligible (have tangible interest) to obtain a document under Minnesota law, and they must pay a non-refundable fee at the time of application. Minnesota Statutes, section 144.226 establishes fees for birth and death certificates, as well as fees for other copies and documents issued by vital records offices. This means that the cost of each document is the same regardless of where customers make their requests in Minnesota. The fees apply to documents for vital events that occur in Minnesota. Fees, laws, and the requirements for application vary from state to state.

When a customer requests a legal certification or copy of any document on file that relates to a vital record, all offices charge a $9 “base” fee for administrative review and processing of the request. Depending on what the customer requests, the document cost is the base fee plus other fees as described in law including:

  • Surcharge of $4 for every certified or noncertified birth or death, or birth resulting in stillbirth certificate. The fees go into the state government special revenue fund.
  • Surcharge of $3 for every certified and noncertified birth certificate and certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth. The surcharge fees go into the Minnesota Department of Human Services Children’s Trust Fund account for the prevention of child abuse.
  • Surcharge of $10 for each certified birth certificate. The fees go into the state’s general fund.
  • Fee of $40 for every amendment to a vital record; replacement of a birth record (excluding those that result from the filing of a voluntary parentage acknowledgement); and births, deaths, and fetal death registrations that have been delayed more than a year after the occurrence.
  • Fee of $20 for expedited service to rush the request through processing.

Since 2013, the cost for a certified copy of a Minnesota birth record is $26 and the cost for a certified copy of a death record is $13. It is important to note that Minnesota Statutes, section 197.93, waives the fee for certified copies of birth and death certificates for veterans and their families. Customers who qualify may request the specially formatted “VA certificates” from any Minnesota vital records office.

Last year, Minnesota vital records offices issued more than 600,000 legal certificates from the Minnesota Registration and Certification (MR&C) system. The 108 county vital records offices issued the majority of those certificates. Staff in county vital records offices collect fees from requestors, retain the base fee to fund their operations, and forward the surcharges to the state. In State Fiscal Year 2018, revenue from vital records fees (excluding the Children’s Trust Fund, $10 surcharges, and the base fee retained by local offices) totaled $3.78 million dollars.

Death record amendment tips

Tips for county vital records offices and funeral homes

Anyone may request an amendment to a death record. "Amendment" means a change to a certification item on the death record after the issuance of a death certificate, or more than one year after the event, whichever occurs first.

The funeral home or other person requesting the amendment must fill out an amendment application form and pay the $40 fee to process the amendment.

If the death occurred more than a year ago, any requester must supply documentation to support the changes or additions. See Documents to support the amendment of a death record on the Minnesota Department of Health website.

Only the medical certifier who originally provided the cause of death, or a coroner or medical examiner in the county of death may change the cause or manner of death on a death record. Only the Office of Vital Records may process changes to the cause of death.

Funeral home tips

The funeral home that filed the documentation of death may request an amendment on behalf of the informant. No supporting documentation is required if the death occurred within the last year.

The name of the funeral home on the application must match the name of the funeral home on the death certificate. This is particularly important if the funeral home has more than one location. If the funeral home names do not match, there may be a delay in approving the amendment.

Tips on processing a funeral home amendment request for local issuance offices

Processing a death record amendment is easy if you follow the process step-by-step. Here are some pointers to get you on the road to success.

When you enter a Customer Service Request in MR&C, follow the instructions at Process a Funeral Home Request to Amend a Death Record on the Minnesota Department of Health website. It is important to enter the request properly. When you create the request, MRC will generate a request number. Best practice: write the request number on the application in case there are any issues.

Please enter only one request per application. If there are any problems entering the initial request, entering additional requests will only confuse MR&C and lead to more issues. If you cannot complete the amendment process, contact the Help Desk at 651-201-5993 for assistance.

On the ‘Request Item Details’ page, tangible interest is always “informant”. The funeral home is requesting the amendment on behalf of the “informant”.

When you get to the ‘Add supporting documents’ section, complete all of the fields including the fields without asterisks. The document number field is an exception; leave it blank. If you leave any of the other fields incomplete, the Office of Vital Records will contact you to complete them before approving the amendment.

Tips on processing a non-funeral home amendment request

If the “informant” brings in an amendment request for a death within the last year, no supporting documentation is required. All other requesters must provide documentation to support the change(s) they are requesting. The type of supporting document depends on the amendment requested. Any supporting documentation in a foreign language requires a notarized translation. If the requester wants to amend:

  • items such as the decedent’s date of birth, place of birth or parent’s information, the requester must supply a certified copy of the decedent’s birth certificate
  • items such as marital status or spouse’s information, the requester must supply a certified copy of a marriage certificate
  • the decedent’s social security number, the requester must supply a Numident Printout from the Social Security Administration

If your county holds the marriage certificate, then you may use the county record to enter into MR&C.

In other news...

Mother’s worksheet available in additional languages

Registering a child’s birth is important. Information mothers provide on the Worksheet and instructions for creating your child's birth record becomes part of a child’s birth record. Some of the information prints on the legal birth certificate. Other information from the birth record helps mothers and babies get services they need. Birth record information ultimately becomes statistics to improve public health and birth outcomes.

Getting accurate responses on a worksheet is essential; that means that the person filling out the worksheet needs to understand what we need. Hospital birth registrars have been asking mothers to complete the English language version of the Worksheet and instructions for creating your child's birth record since late 2017, employing the use of translators to bridge the language gap.

Now, the worksheet and instructions are available in Hmong, Karen, Somali and Spanish. The Office of Vital Records sent a GovDelivery communication to birth registrars about the translated worksheets late last month. If you did not receive that communication, see “What’s New?” at Birth and Fetal Death Registration Information for Hospital Staff on the Minnesota Department of Health website. You will find links to the translations there too.


Training for local issuance officers—save the date

In conjunction with the Minnesota Association of County Officers (MACO) 2019 Winter Conference, the Office of Vital Records (OVR) is offering vital records professionals an opportunity to fulfill their annual training. Please plan to join OVR on Monday, February 11, 2019, from 3:00-6:00 p.m. at the Hilton Doubletree Hotel Bloomington - Minneapolis South, 7800 Normandale Blvd., Minneapolis, MN 55439-3145.

Susan Brower, the State Demographer, will speak about Minnesota’s changing population and the importance of vital record data to demography. OVR will present information related to customer service, identity and security, and, share a sneak peek at new online curricula.

There is no cost for the OVR annual training. Details and registration information will be available soon. This event is separate from the MACO conference. On Tuesday, February 12, MACO is offering the “Vitals Session” from 10:00 a.m. to noon with OVR and other guest speakers on the agenda. OVR will also be exhibiting at the MACO conference.