DEATH CERTIFICATES – TRAINING & PROCESS
Notice to all Nurse Practitioners Effective March 12, 2021:
● Due to increased needs during the COVID-19 Pandemic, your assistance with death certificates is requested, where appropriate, to aid families making funeral arrangements, and county officials handling unfortunate increases in death rates.
● Death Certificate Training is no longer a requirement to be able to complete death certifications. ● For more information,about the D.A.V.E. system and how to complete the death certificate, or to access the optional training, please visit the D.A.V.E. System-Medical Certifier on the Department of Health Services website at
● If you know the cause of death or can, with a reasonable degree of confidence, determine the most probable cause of death*, please complete the death certificates as quickly as possible, and within the 72 hours required by law. A.R.S. § 36-325, see below.
● If you do not know the cause of death: please timely refer to the appropriate medical examiner or alternate.
*Arizona Revised Statute 32-325 N. states that “A healthcare provider who completes and signs a medical certification of death in good faith pursuant to this section is not subject to civil liability or professional disciplinary action.”
The following are some of the applicable death certificate laws, and clarifications:
● A.R.S. § 36-325(G) states:
o If a person under the current care* of a health care provider for an acute or chronic medical condition dies of that condition or complications associated with that condition, the health care provider or a health care provider designated by that provider shall complete and sign the medical certification of death on a death certificate within seventy-two hours. If current care has not been provided, the medical examiner or alternate medical examiner shall complete and sign the medical certification of death on a death certificate within seventy-two hours after the examination, excluding weekends and holidays.
(Asterisk added, see below for definition of “current care”.)
o Nothing in this statute requires a provider to complete a death certificate when the provider is uncertain of the cause of death.
● *“Current care” is defined in A.R.S. § 36-301(8), which states: "Current care" means that a health care provider has examined, treated, or provided care for a person for a chronic or acute condition within eighteen months preceding that person's death. Current care does not include services provided in connection with a single event of an emergency or urgent care. For the purposes of this paragraph, "treated" includes prescribing medication.
o This definition of “current care” provides flexibility to the provider to extend to 18 months of last examination/treatment/provision of care; but does not require the provider to complete a death certificate when the cause of death is uncertain.