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September 15, 1906


JAMA. 1906;XLVII(11):866. doi:10.1001/jama.1906.02520110050012

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Physicians should appreciate the necessity of designating correctly the cause of death. Science is in no way served when the cause of death, for instance, is entered on the certificate simply as "convulsions," or "heart failure," or "pulmonary edema." The patient may have died immediately or directly in such circumstance, but these unqualified statements give no clue to the disease which was the essential, indirect or underlying cause. In later years relatives are often anxious when they themselves become ill; then, again, it will be found that questions of heredity in disease, very important to be settled, must forever remain obscure. From the legal viewpoint the matter is still more grave. A defective certificate may occasion the patient's family much vexation and at the same time give the authorities unnecessary work in the way of investigation. Occasionally there may be mortification for the physician not altogether undeserved. For example, to

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