February Vital Records News

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Vital Records News

February 2019

MDH web addresses changing

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has been working on changes to the Minnesota Department of Health website. On Thursday, February 14, after 3 p.m., you will notice that:

  • Web addresses (URLs) are changed. This means that on February 14:

    • you must update your bookmarks to any MDH webpages, including Office of Vital Records (OVR) webpages, and,

    • your webmaster must update any links to MDH and OVR webpages and forms you have on your website.

  • MDH webpages are reorganized. Content now appears in categories that reflect the way users think of our work.

  • Searching is best. As you get used to the new organization and URLs, you may find that doing a search for what you need will get you there faster.

The changes do not apply to Minnesota Registration & Certification (MR&C).

We appreciate your patience during this transition. If you encounter any problems with the new site, please contact our webmaster through the MDH Feedback Form.

If you have trouble with any Office of Vital Records pages or documents, contact the Office of Vital Records at health.vitalrecords@state.mn.us or 651-201-5993.

Vital records data helps babies

Data sharing agreement between the Newborn Screening Program and Office of Vital Records

All babies born in Minnesota have access to newborn screening for over 50 rare and serious disorders through the Minnesota Department of Health’s Public Health Laboratory. In 2018, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) added testing for its newest condition: Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).

About one in 6,000 babies are born with this genetic neurological disease. While infants with SMA usually look normal at birth, their bodies are already attacking and destroying the nerves that control muscle movement. More than half of the babies are so weak that they never sit up and they eventually are unable to swallow or breathe. The children with the “mild” forms of the disease survive, but rely on wheelchairs and other technology in their daily lives. Some people call this “baby ALS,” not because the two diseases are the same, but because the effects are equally devastating.

A new drug has been developed that can stop the destruction of the babies’ nerves. It is most effective when given before there is any nerve destruction. The first Minnesota baby with SMA to receive the drug is now walking! Given the striking outcomes from this drug, it is not surprising that families of children with SMA lobbied MDH to add the disease to the screening panel.

When newborn screening results indicate that a baby has SMA, MDH staff contact the clinic and doctor caring for the child. Obviously, we need to do this quickly so that evaluation and treatment can begin immediately. Many hospitals submit newborn screening specimens to MDH identifying the infant as [Baby] [Mother’s Name]. For example, the MDH Public Health Lab might receive a specimen with the name Baby Peggy Greene instead of the baby’s legal name, James Brown.

Not knowing the name the family has given the baby makes it difficult to identify the baby’s clinic and doctor. A data sharing agreement between the Newborn Screening Program and Office of Vital Records allows MDH genetic counselors to look at the birth record to see the baby’s name. This link proved valuable in identifying a baby recently found to have SMA. Because the birth record had the baby’s proper name on it (not the name on the screening card), there was no delay in contacting the doctor. The baby was able to see the specialist the next day and begin treatment for SMA right away.

Sometimes it seems like spelling a name right or getting the right last name is unlikely to make a difference, but staff in Newborn Screening know that the information on birth records can make a huge difference to Minnesota babies. Indeed, getting the right information can even help a baby walk and lead a long and happy life.

Thanks to Beth-Ann Bloom, Geneticist, Public Health Laboratory at the Minnesota Department of Health for contributing this article.

Acceptable identification

The Mexican Matricula Consular Identification Card

Recently the public and other government representatives have contacted the Office of Vital Records (OVR) to ask about accepting the Mexican Matricula Consular Identification Card. OVR discovered that misinformation resulted in some vital records offices refusing to accept the Matricula Consular card as a form of identification.

Please know that Minnesota Administrative Rules, part 4601.2600 provides detailed information about identification that is acceptable for vital records purposes. Subpart 5 explains, “To be accepted by a registrar, the document of identity must include the applicant’s signature and photograph or physical description and the registrar must be able to authenticate the document with the issuing entity.”

The Matricula Consular Identification Card contains a signature and photo and you can authenticate it, if and when necessary, with the Mexican Consulate Office in St. Paul, Minnesota. When the Republic of Mexico revised the Matricula Consular Identification Card in 2015, it introduced many new security and fraud-prevention features.

If you, as a vital records professional, have concerns about the authenticity of a Matricula Consular Identification Card, email Silvia Elena Segovia Trujillo (ssegovia@sre.gob.mx) at the Mexican Consulate Office in St. Paul. Silvia, or another staff person, will assist vital records staff and respond to emails as soon as possible. This means that customers making a request may need to wait for the response from the Consulate before your office can fulfill the request.

Please contact the Office of Vital Records Help Desk if you have questions about this message and other vital records topics: 651-201-5970, health.vitalrecords@state.mn.us.

Tangible interest

Applicants for most vital records documents must have tangible interest to obtain the document they request. Minnesota Statutes and Rules do not define “tangible interest”. The statutes and rules do describe the persons who have tangible interest or the right to a vital records document. According to Minnesota Statutes, section 13.02, subdivision 10, “"Person" means any individual, partnership, corporation, association, business trust, or a legal representative of an organization.” Tangible interest is a means of protecting data on individuals and Minnesota’s vital records.

The Office of Vital Records recently updated the Tangible Interest Job Aid on the Information for Local Issuance Offices Reference Information (www.health.state.mn.us/divs/chs/osr/localreg/refinfo.html) webpage*.

The new job aid is a two-sided page. It describes the persons who have tangible interest in certified and noncertified birth and death records. The tangible interest columns on the job aid mirror the “relationship” sections on the various applications. In addition, the aid lists the documents or other requirements the applicant must supply or meet. Review the job aid and take note of these points:

  • The only persons who may obtain certified copies of CONFIDENTIAL birth records are those listed in the lines numbered 20-23 on the job aid AND on the birth record application. Anyone who completes a birth record application and selects a “tangible interest” from 1-19 is NOT eligible to receive a confidential record.
  • The “authorized representative” tangible interest line is updated for the birth certificate (line number 19) AND the death certificate (line number 16).
  • The only persons who may obtain noncertified CONFIDENTIAL birth records are those listed in the ‘Tangible Interest for Noncertified Confidential Birth Record’ section of the job aid, and line 3 on the Noncertified Birth Record Application.
  • Anyone may obtain a noncertified PUBLIC birth record or a noncertified death record. The information required on the application depends on whether the requester appears in person, mails, or faxes the request.
  • The Tangible Interest Job Aid is for county vital records office staff. It is not a handout to customers.

If you have questions about who is eligible to obtain birth or death certificates, contact us at health.vitalrecords@state.mn.us or 651-201-5970 .

*Note: On February 14 and after, find the Tangible Interest Job Aid on the Information for County Vital Records Offices webpage at Reference Information (www.health.state.mn.us/people/vitalrecords/localreg/refinfo.html).

Cold weather deaths

Minnesota death records indicate that cold weather has contributed to the deaths of ten people this year. The death records included the terms hypothermia, frostbite, or exposure. Alcohol intoxication, in addition to hypothermia, was a factor in some of the causes of death.

Between October 2018 and the end that year, 23 death records listed hypothermia, frostbite, or exposure as factors in the deaths.

People whose death records do not yet have a cause of death are not included in the 33 deaths noted above.

The mortality codes assigned to cold weather deaths include the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) codes below. All of the information (text, data fields) on the Cause of Death I and Cause of Death II pages in MR&C contribute to mortality code assignment.

  • T33-T35: Frostbite
    • T33 Superficial frostbite
    • T34 Frostbite with tissue necrosis
    • T35 Frostbite involving multiple body regions
  • T68: Hypothermia
  • T69: Other effects of reduced temperature
  • X31: Exposure to excessive natural cold (includes: excessive cold as the cause of – chilblains, immersion foot or hand; exposure to cold, weather conditions
  • F10 Mental and behavioral disorders due to use of alcohol
  • T510 Toxic effect of alcohol

Specific and precise cause of death reporting results in more accurate coding for statistics and research.