2017 Colorado Revised Statutes
Title 25 - Public Health and Environment
Vital Statistics
Article 2 - Vital Statistics
§ 25-2-110. Certificates of death

Universal Citation: CO Rev Stat § 25-2-110 (2017)

(1) (a) A certificate of death for each death, including a stillborn death, that occurs in Colorado must be filed with the state registrar or as otherwise directed by the state registrar, within five days after the death occurs and prior to final disposition. The state registrar shall register the certificate if it has been completed in accordance with this section. Every certificate of death must identify the decedent's social security number, if available. If the place of death is unknown but the dead body is found in Colorado, the certificate of death must be completed and filed in accordance with this section. The place where the body is found must be shown as the place of death. If the date of death is unknown, the date must be determined by approximation.

(b) (I) The department of public health and environment shall create and the state registrar shall use an electronic death registration system for the purpose of collecting death information from funeral directors, coroners, physicians, local registrars, health facilities, and other authorized individuals, as determined by the department. Death information submitted electronically by a funeral director, coroner, physician, local registrar, health facility, or authorized individual, as determined by the department, to the electronic death registration system for purposes of fulfilling the requirements of this section satisfies the signature and filing requirements of this section and section 30-10-606, C.R.S.

(II) Repealed.

(c) Once a certificate of death has been filed pursuant to paragraph (a) of this subsection (1), a verification of death document may be used by local offices of vital statistics and the office of the state registrar of vital statistics when verifying a vital event to a person or organization that has requested a verification of fact-of-death. A verification of death document must include the name and address of the decedent, the date of death, the place of death, the date the document is filed, the state file number, and the name of any spouse of the decedent. A verification of death document is not required to contain a social security number of the deceased as is otherwise required of a certificate of death under paragraph (a) of this subsection (1).

(2) When a death occurs in a moving conveyance in the United States and the body is first removed from the conveyance in Colorado, the death shall be registered in Colorado, and the place where it is first removed shall be considered the place of death. When a death occurs on a moving conveyance while in international air space or in a foreign country or its air space and the body is first removed from the conveyance in Colorado, the death shall be registered in Colorado, but the certificate shall show the actual place of death insofar as can be determined.

(3) (a) The funeral director or person acting as such who first assumes custody of a dead body, stillborn fetus, or dead fetus shall be responsible for the filing of the death certificate required by subsection (1) of this section. He or she shall obtain the personal data required by the certificate from the next of kin or the best qualified person or source available. He or she shall obtain the medical certification necessary to complete the portion of the certificate pertaining to the cause of death from the best qualified person or source available, pursuant to subsection (4) of this section.

(b) In the case of a stillborn fetus, notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (a) of this subsection (3), the physician, nurse, or other medical personnel attending to the stillborn death may assume responsibility for filing the death certificate required by paragraph (a) of this subsection (3). The person filing the death certificate in the case of a stillborn fetus shall obtain the personal data required by the certificate from a parent and shall include a name on the death certificate if a parent desires to identify a name.

(c) If a death certificate is not filed in the case of a stillborn death as required by paragraph (a) of this subsection (3), a parent may inform the state registrar of the information necessary to complete the death certificate. The state registrar shall confirm such information and complete the death certificate accordingly.

(4) Except when inquiry is required by section 30-10-606, C.R.S., the physician in charge of the patient's care for the illness or condition that resulted in death shall complete, sign, and return to the funeral director or person acting as such all medical certification within forty-eight hours after a death occurs. In the absence of said physician or with his or her approval, the certificate may be completed and signed by his or her associate physician, by the chief medical officer of the institution in which the death occurred, or by the physician who performed an autopsy upon the decedent, if such individual has access to the medical history of the case, if he or she views the decedent at or after the time of death, and if the death is due to natural causes. If an autopsy is performed, the certification shall indicate whether the decedent was pregnant at the time of death, and said information shall be reported on the death certificate as required by subsection (9) of this section.

(5) When inquiry is required by section 30-10-606, C.R.S., the coroner shall determine the cause of death and shall complete and sign the medical certification within forty-eight hours after taking charge of the case. If an autopsy is performed, the certification shall indicate whether the decedent was pregnant at the time of death, and said information shall be reported on the death certificate as required by subsection (9) of this section.

(6) If the cause of death cannot be determined within forty-eight hours after a death, the medical certification shall be completed as provided by rule. If an autopsy is performed, the certification shall indicate whether the decedent was pregnant at the time of death, and said information shall be reported on the death certificate as required by subsection (9) of this section. The attending physician or coroner shall give the funeral director or person acting as such notice of the reason for the delay, and final disposition of the body shall not be made until authorized by the office designated or established pursuant to section 25-2-103 in the county where the death occurred or, if such an office does not exist in the county where the death occurred, final disposition of the body shall not be made until authorized by the coroner or the coroner's designee.

(7) When a death is presumed to have occurred within Colorado but the body cannot be located, a death certificate may be prepared by the state registrar upon receipt of an order of a court of competent jurisdiction which shall include the finding of facts required to complete the death certificate. Such a death certificate shall be marked "presumptive" and shall show on its face the date of registration and shall identify the court and the date of decree.

(8) Every funeral establishment shall maintain registration with the office of the state registrar and shall act in accordance with the provisions of this article.

(9) (a) If an autopsy is performed, a certificate of death shall identify whether the decedent was pregnant at the time of death.

(b) The requirement in this subsection (9) and subsections (4), (5), and (6) of this section to indicate whether the decedent was pregnant at the time of death shall be complied with when the person required to make the designation has access to the certification form that permits compliance.

(10) Whenever in the Colorado Revised Statutes the terms "certificate of death" or "death certificate" are used, except as to the initial certificate of death required pursuant to paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of this section, the same two terms include a verification of death document that is certified by the state registrar and issued pursuant to paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of this section.

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