Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 04-01-2009, 02:22 AM
pkbites pkbites is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Majikal Land O' Cheeze!
Posts: 9,970
Legal question: Death certificate

Why is it that while anyone can get a non-certified copy of a death certificate, the law allows only certain individuals (spouse, children, those with proven legal interests) to get a copy of the "extended facts of death" that includes the cause of death. What is the reasoning behind not letting the general public know why a person died? Is this just a basic privacy issue, or is there more to it?

FYI I'm talking about Wisconsin law.
  #2  
Old 04-01-2009, 08:21 AM
Billdo Billdo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Delectable City of Gotham
Posts: 4,894
I have no idea about Wisconsin law, but I recall that starting back in the earlier "gay plague" days of the AIDS crisis, New York had some sorts of restrictions on the cause of death information on death certificates that were issued. I believe that this was to encourage medical professionals to accurately report cause of death but to avoid the embarrassment of having died from a "gay" disease on one's death certificate.

I don't know where things stand today.
  #3  
Old 04-01-2009, 11:34 AM
Kimmy_Gibbler Kimmy_Gibbler is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 3,712
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services page on the topic, the difference between the certified and uncertified forms is not one concerning the amount of information:

Quote:
An uncertified copy of a death certificate is available to anyone who applies. An uncertified copy will contain the same information as a certified copy but will not be acceptable for legal purposes, such as claiming insurance benefits.

What information will be on the death certificate?

An uncertified copy of a death certificate will be a photocopy on plain, white paper of the original document that was filed in our office. A certified copy of a death certificate will be a photocopy on security paper of the original document that was filed in our office. The information provided on a death certificate varies from year to year. Typically, a death certificate from 1907 will include the cause of death and the place of burial. Death certificates from later years may include additional information such as occupation and underlying causes of death.
  #4  
Old 04-01-2009, 11:55 AM
pkbites pkbites is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Majikal Land O' Cheeze!
Posts: 9,970
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimmy_Gibbler View Post
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services page on the topic, the difference between the certified and uncertified forms is not one concerning the amount of information:
Incorrect. From the states death certificate application:

For 2003 and later death certificates, only persons named in the above list and direct descendants of the decedent may have
access to information in the “Extended Fact of Death” certificate (which includes cause of death and disposition information).


So if someone from the general public obtains a non-certified death certificate for someone who died since 2003, it is not going to say what that person died of.

I'm wondering what the reasoning is behind this. My only guess is privacy.
  #5  
Old 04-01-2009, 12:07 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
Voodoo Adult (Slight Return)
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Charlotte, NC, USA
Posts: 24,874
I could have to do with more than one person's privacy.

Say you're reviewing an application for Jack's widow Jill's life insurance. If Jack died of something communicable, and you can locate that information, that might cause you to deny Jill purely on the suspicion that she caught it from him.

Last edited by KneadToKnow; 04-01-2009 at 12:07 PM.
  #6  
Old 04-01-2009, 12:37 PM
Kimmy_Gibbler Kimmy_Gibbler is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 3,712
The prohibition on disclosure is at Wisconsin Statutes 69.20(2)(c) which imposes a fifty-year bar on the registrar of vital statistics from releasing information pertaining to the cause of death or injury-related information. There are exceptions for court orders, public health programs and research, and collection of statistics.

So, it would seem the concerns for the privacy of the deceased and his family motivated the change (which originated in Wisconsin Act 16 of 2001, the Biennial Budget Bill). There doesn't seem to be any legislative history documenting exactly why they did so.
  #7  
Old 04-01-2009, 01:19 PM
pkbites pkbites is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Majikal Land O' Cheeze!
Posts: 9,970
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimmy_Gibbler View Post
The prohibition on disclosure is at Wisconsin Statutes 69.20(2)(c) which imposes a fifty-year bar on the registrar of vital statistics from releasing information pertaining to the cause of death or injury-related information. There are exceptions for court orders, public health programs and research, and collection of statistics.

So, it would seem the concerns for the privacy of the deceased and his family motivated the change (which originated in Wisconsin Act 16 of 2001, the Biennial Budget Bill). There doesn't seem to be any legislative history documenting exactly why they did so.
I've only scanned that chapter. Is there anything legally preventing an authorized person (spouse, etc.) from publishing the full death certificate (including expanded facts of death) once they have legally obtained it?
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:23 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2017 Sun-Times Media, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017