In the current climate of unbridled spewing of alternative facts (aka half-truths and untruths), practitioners of clinical medicine remain morally rooted in their efforts as public health advocates in the application of peer-reviewed scientific clinical research to patient care 1 . The provisions and recommendations of Model State Vital Statistics Act and Regulations form the basis by which States systematically, via policy-driven legislation, collect key pieces of information regarding human earthly milestones, namely birth, marriage, divorce, and death 2 . Maintaining records of these milestones with issuance of certificates not only allows individuals and families to fulfill certain legal requirements but also assists local, state, and national governments in evidence-based policy-making and fund allocation. Diagnostic and procedural information contained in medical records, autopsy reports, and cause-of-death information listed on death certificates are vital elements of public health policies 3,4.
As medical practitioners, we are all advocates for the truth.
- Fleming DA. The moral agency of physician organizations: meeting obligations to advocate for patients and the public. Ann Intern Med. 2015;163(12):918-21.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Center for Health Statistics. Model State Vital Statistics Act and Regulations. http://www.fgs.org/rpac/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Model-State-Vital-Statistics-Act-2011.pdf .
- Ollove M. To Make Better Policy, States Seek Better Death Certificates. http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2015/09/09/to-make-better-policy-states-seek-better-death-certificates .
- Armstrong EJ. 2017. Essentials of Death Reporting and Death Certification-Practical Applications for the Clinical Practitioner.
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