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April 28, 1989

What's Been Added to 1989 Certificate? Well...

JAMA. 1989;261(16):2305-2306. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420160021006

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THE COMMITTEE that revised the national death certificate model for 1989 has provided more detailed instructions for the cause-of-death section and added two examples of how to fill it out. One illustrates a possible natural cause (a heart attack), and the other, a traumatic cause (an automobile accident).

Further instructions and more examples appear in an accompanying handbook, the Physicians' Handbook on Medical Certification of Death (Dept of Health and Human Services publication [PHS]87-1108).

Committee members (a subgroup of the Panel to Evaluate the US Standard Certificates and Reports) also added more space in the cause-of-death section itself. "We're seeing that physicians enter more and more detailed information," says Harry M. Rosenberg, MD, National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, Md. "It [the section] has been too cramped."

How Much Is Enough?  Daniel Fife, PhD, director of research at the New Jersey Department of Health, Trenton, suggests that just adding space