GUIDANCE FOR CERTIFYING COVID-19 DEATHS

Greetings from the State Office of Vital Records:

New Video Guidance for Certification of COVID-19 Deaths

To supplement the published guidance on filling out death certificates for deaths related to COVID-19, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has released a short video on the NCHS YouTube channel. The video runs a little over 3 minutes and can be accessed directly at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oL3VMwieAms

Guidance for certifying COVID-19 deaths when the decedent has underlying health conditions

When certifying deaths due to COVID-19 it can be important to list pre-existing health conditions that could increase susceptibility to infection or exacerbate the disease. However, please be mindful that those conditions should be listed in Part II of the death certificate as significant conditions . Conditions like diabetes, hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or asthma are just some examples of conditions that should be listed in Part II when present. Such conditions should not be listed on lines A through D when reporting deaths due to COVID-19 because they did not cause the COVID-19, nor were they caused by COVID-19.

Example:

Seventy-seven year old male with Hypertension and COPD presented to the emergency department with 4 days of fever, cough, and increasing shortness of breath. Respiratory specimens tested positive for COVID-19. The patient was admitted to the ICU. On day 3 day of admission he experienced worsening respiratory acidosis for several hours, then cardiac arrest.

How should this death be recorded in GAVERS?
Key takeaways:

  • Be specific and list “COVID-19” or “2019 Novel Coronavirus” when certifying the cause of death. It is not specific enough to only list “coronavirus” as a cause of death.
  • Hypertension and COPD are included in Cause of Death – Part II. These are significant conditions related to the death, but did not directly result in, or result from COVID-19
  • Include approximate intervals, when available, for all causes in Part I. When the exact intervals are not known it is acceptable to use terms like hours, days, months, or years to indicate the approximate interval of each condition.
  • Do not include terms like cardiac arrest among the causes of death in GAVERS. This is a terminal event at the time of death, not a cause of death.

For additional resources on COVID-19 and death certification, please visit these links:

Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH):
 
Georgia DPH State Office of Vital Records:
 
CDC Webinar for Certifying Deaths Due to COVID-19
 
CDC Guidance for Certifying Deaths Due to COVID-19


Regards,

Christopher Harrison, MPH
State Registrar
Deputy Director Data Integrity & Analytics
State Office of Vital Records
CONTACT INFORMATION
REGIONAL SUPPORT MANAGER
Joseph Little
joseph.little@dph.ga.gov
(770) 909-2952 or (404) 863-4832

REGIONAL CONSULTANT (SOUTH/EAST)
Kamilah Traylor
kamilah.traylor@dph.ga.gov
(770) 909-2941 or (404) 901-1615

GAVERS TECHNICAL SUPPORT
Petra Hood
petra.hood@dph.ga.gov
(404) 679-4745
REGIONAL CONSULTANT (WEST)
Mannett Foster
mannett.foster@dph.ga.gov
(770) 909-2943 or (404) 901-1634

REGIONAL CONSULTANT (NORTH)
Crystal Myers
crystal.myers@dph.ga.gov
(770) 909-2940 or (404) 414-9216

GAVERS TECHNICAL SUPPORT
Shawnketrius Tukes
shawnketrius.tukes@dph.ga.gov
(404) 679-4745
OPERATIONS SUPPORT MANAGER
Michael Valle
michael.valle@dph.ga.gov
(770) 909-5383
STATE OFFICE OF VITAL RECORDS
Communications Center
(404) 679-4702
Georgia Department of Public Health | State Office of Vital Records | Phone: (404) 679-4702 |
Fax: (404) 679-4730 | akilah.mcghee@dph.ga.gov | dph.georgia.gov/VitalRecords