An emergency order was issued late Saturday by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) that shortens the length of time physicians, coroner, and funeral staff have to notify state officials when someone dies of COVID-19 to 24 hours.
“MDHHS is committed to protecting the public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why I am issuing this emergency order,” MDHHS Director Robert Gordon said said in a statement; adding:
To inform sound decision-making and protect Michiganders, public health officials need accurate information about COVID-19 deaths as quickly as possible. I appreciate the work of our funeral home directors and physicians right now, and I am grateful to partner with them in taking quick action during this pandemic.
The order, the statement explains, is to communicate “important death information to public health officials so they can better provide health services and enforce health laws.”
Under the new rule, when a doctor knows – or suspects – the death of a patient is from COVID-19, they must “try to promptly notify the funeral director.”
Next, the funeral director is then required to “initiate the death record and submit to the attending physician within 24 hours of becoming aware that the death resulted or is suspected to have resulted from COVID-19.”
The MDHHS statement continues:
The funeral director must then file the death record with the local registrar of the district where the death occurred within 48 hours of becoming aware the death resulted or was suspected to have resulted from COVID-19. Funeral directors also must report all deaths using Michigan’s Electronic Death Records System.
Physicians who receive a death record for medical certification where the death resulted or is suspected to have resulted from COVID-19 must attempt to certify the death record within 24 hours of receipt.
MDHHS strongly encourages physicians – particularly medical examiners and hospitalists – to use the Electronic Death Records System to certify death records.
Speedy reporting of COVID-19 deaths allows public health officials to more accurately understand the impact of the disease in the community and informs plans for further public health measures.
As of press time, Michigan recorded 15,718 cases of COVID-19, with 617 deaths.
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Photo “MDHHS Director Robert Gordon” by Robert Gordon.