Death certification guidance during COVID-19

  • Date: 27 May 2020

DOCTORS should use their clinical judgement when deciding whether to include COVID-19 in a cause of death certificate.

A joint statement from the Care Quality Commission and the General Medical Council said clinicians should state what they believe to be the most likely cause of death based on their knowledge of the patient, the events surrounding the death and any available medical history or investigations.

Where no positive swab diagnosis is available, they said it is satisfactory for doctors to "apply clinical judgement" and to state the cause of death "to the best of their knowledge and belief". They add: "It is not required that the cause must be proven."

The statement emphasised that doctors should not feel pressured to include or exclude COVID-19 during the pandemic period.

It also reminded doctors that deaths are still required by law to be registered within five days (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or eight days (in Scotland) of their occurrence unless there is to be a coroner’s post-mortem or an inquest or, in Scotland, the death has been reported to the procurator fiscal.

  • Read the full statement here

This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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