October 2019 Vital Records News

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Vital Records News

October 2019

Vital records project to advance interoperability and improve mortality data

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Last month, the Office of Vital Records (OVR) received funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) for a special project. The purposes of the project are to improve data collection for drug overdose deaths and to achieve interoperability between Minnesota Registration & Certification (MR&C) and one or more medical examiner/coroner case management systems. The two-year project provides OVR $320,000 for the effort, which will also explore how MR&C can better support medical examiner/coroner death registration activities and tasks related to authorizing disposition.

The project requires OVR to demonstrate the ability to transmit relevant ‘drug overdose death information’ from a medical examiner/coroner case management system to MR&C, using application programming interfaces (APIs).

OVR will bring together members of the Minnesota medical examiner/coroner community, medical certifiers, and other essential partners to work on improvements. Under the project, OVR will work to understand the business needs of medical examiners and coroners in addition to how we can improve collecting data about drug overdose deaths. We want to work together to identify and prioritize improvements and system changes (including those to MR&C) that help everyone.

Over the next few months during the initial phase of discovery and exploration, OVR will assess the environment, gather information, and determine partner readiness for interoperability. OVR will interview key medical examiner/coroner partners and staff involved in registering deaths. We will also host listening sessions. OVR hopes to gain insight into business needs, processes, drug overdose information, and how OVR can improve service, support and reach agreement on improvements to MR&C. Next, OVR will identify one or more medical examiner/coroner offices to participate in the NCHS special project and work on interoperability.

OVR invites MR&C users from medical examiner and coroner offices to get involved. Share information about OVR’s plan with others at your office. Select a representative who can participate in an interview with OVR staff. Think about who might attend the later listening session. Email information about your designated representative and questions about the project to OVR: anne.kleppe@state.mn.us.

Fight the flu: protect yourself and others

Influenza (flu) can be a serious illness and can be deadly even for otherwise healthy people. The flu vaccine helps prevent disease and protect against severe outcomes like hospitalization and death. Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccination unless they cannot because of medical reasons. Getting a flu vaccination helps protect you from getting the flu and prevents you from passing it to people who could get very sick.

The flu is a respiratory disease caused by a virus that attacks the nose, throat, and lungs. Illness is usually mild or moderate, not requiring hospitalization. However, at times flu can be severe, even leading to death. Tracking flu deaths is an important responsibility for the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). The Office of Vital Records (OVR) monitors records where the cause of death or a contributing cause of death is flu. When OVR receives reports of flu deaths, we report them to the state epidemiologist the same day.

Anyone can become very sick with flu. Those most at risk are:

  • People age 65 and older
  • Young children, especially those under two years of age
  • Pregnant women
  • People with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease
  • American Indian and Alaska Natives

“Getting a flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others,” said Kris Ehresmann, Director of the MDH Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division. For the best protection, flu vaccine is usually given in early fall before flu season starts. However, you can get a flu vaccination anytime during the flu season, which is typically October through April.

There are several types of flu vaccine available. The type of vaccine you can get depends on factors like being pregnant, your age, health conditions, and allergies. Your health care provider will know what type of vaccine you should get. “The most important thing is to get vaccinated. Don't wait for a specific type of flu vaccine to be available,” said Ehresmann.

Use the HealthMap Vaccine Finder and search by zip code to find a flu clinic and get your shot. Call ahead to confirm the vaccine is in stock and to find out about costs.

More information about the flu is on the Minnesota Department of Health Influenza (Flu) webpage.

Retired is NOT an occupation

Cover of NIOSH/CDC Guidelines for Reporting Occupation and Industry on Death Certificates pamphlet

Did you know there are approximately 5,000 traumatic work-related deaths and tens of thousands work-related deaths from illnesses reported each year?

By reporting accurate data on industry and usual or lifetime occupation of decedents, funeral directors and others involved in the death registration process are helping to improve statistics on occupational mortality and worker health.

Public health program planners and researchers rely on funeral directors to record the best information possible on potential risk factors, including potentially hazardous jobs held by decedents during their working lives.

The usual (longest-held) occupation and kind of business or industry of workers can reveal the national illness and injury burden by industry and occupation. Such information can help detect jobs that may have a high risk for death due to injury, cancer, or other diseases and for which prevention efforts can be concentrated or targeted.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reviews the quality of the occupation and industry reported, combines it with the NCHS mortality data, and reports U.S. occupational mortality trends.

Check out the NIOSH Guidelines for Reporting Occupation and Industry on Death Certificates for details on reporting Occupation and Industry items when entering death records into Minnesota Registration and Certification (MR&C). The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) updated the publication to provide guidance on completing the Decedent’s Usual Occupation and Kind of Business/Industry items on death certificates.

In this publication, you will find examples of acceptable entries of occupation and corresponding business/industry developed by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. There is also a checklist for reviewing the quality of your entries that can be very helpful as well and example scenarios to assist in providing accurate data on decedent’s Occupation and industry.

Funeral directors must report specific and complete industry and usual occupation information for all decedents over age 14 that were ever employed, unemployed, or retired. Working together, NCHS and NIOSH improve worker health and safety.

We want to hear from you!

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Are you interested in being a guest writer for a future newsletter?

What do you want OVR to write about?

Have you or your facility solved a registration or certificate issuance problem that might help other vital records partners?

Email your solutions, questions, ideas to health.vitalrecords@state.mn.us. Put Vital Records News in the subject line. One of the newsletter staff will contact you for more information.


In other news...

From the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)

Mortality Patterns Between Five States With Highest Death Rates and Five States With Lowest Death Rates: United States, 2017

"Mortality in the United States varies widely by state (1). This report compares average age-adjusted death rates by sex, race and ethnicity, and five leading causes of death between a group of five states with the highest age-adjusted death rates (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia) and a group of five states with the lowest age-adjusted death rates (California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, and New York) in 2017 (2). Age-specific death rates for the two groups are presented as well."


From the Minnesota Department of Health

Stillbirths - Loss of a baby before or during delivery at 20 weeks or more completed gestation (PDF)


Birth Registrar and Funeral Staff Training

Sign up for these classes at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Learning Center.

5R's of Death Registration - for funeral home staff

Wednesday, October 30, 2019, 8 a.m. - noon

Birth Registration 101 - for new birth registrars

Tuesday, November 19, 2019, 8 a.m. - noon

Both classes are at the Orville L. Freeman Building, Room C127, 625 Robert St N, St. Paul, MN 55155-2538.

Registration instructions and learning center account creation information are available on these webpages: Birth and Fetal Death Registration for Hospital Staff and Death Registration Information for Morticians and Staff

Contact the Office of Vital Records