Death Reporting and Certification: The Missing Link in Clinical Resident Education and Why It Matters

As Match Day has come to pass and with the approach of the new academic year, intense focus will soon turn to the training of new 1st-year medical residents in the many ways of competent care and management of the patient. The goals: optimization of health, prolongation of a quality life, and prevention of premature death. Understandably, the efforts towards these goals consume the bulk of resident education leaving little room for concentrated instruction on death reporting and certification. Death, however, is an eventuality and a reality, even after the best of clinical efforts.

This necessitates the inclusion of formalized education on the topic of death reporting and death certification with the ultimate goal of optimization of public health through enhanced diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease and injury. Some training programs may already have a curriculum in place and others may be actively looking for a place to begin. Residency training programs can enhance the curriculum pertaining to death reporting and certification by:

  • providing traditional or online tutorials and lectures
  • utilizing morbidity and mortality conference as the platform for reviewing terminal clinical events and autopsy results along with the cause of death listed on the death certificate
  • scheduling visits by residents to the local coroner or medical examiner office to observe the triage process and the workup of jurisdictional deaths

More on this topic can be found in Chapters 3 and 6 of the new textbook Essentials of Death Reporting and Death Certification: Practical Applications for the Clinical Practitioner available on

Click on the following link and take a look inside!


Stay tuned for future Practice Pearls posts!