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July 24, 1996

Death Certificate Completion by Physicians

Author Affiliations

Atlanta, Ga

JAMA. 1996;276(4):279. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540040023013

To the Editor.  —Drs Messite and Stellman1 conclude that training in death certificate completion should be part of physician training but usually is not. Similar to their pilot study results, a recent survey of 198 physician medical examiners showed that only 13% received death certificate training in medical school and only 29% received such training during residency (National Association of Medical Examiners interim meeting, Nashville, Tenn, February 1996). However, training should probably include the targeting of selected groups of physicians because many physicians sign few or no death certificates.2 The following suggestions include acrossthe-board and targeted educational measures.1. The Association of American Medical Colleges could recommend that all medical schools provide students with (or require students to obtain) readily available instruction manuals on death certification.3,42. The United States Medical Licensure Examination and other medical school examinations could routinely include questions on death certification.3. The Accreditation Council on Graduate