The act changes the time frame required to file a certificate of death with the state registrar from 5 days after a death occurs to 72 hours after the funeral director assumes custody of a dead body, stillborn fetus, or dead fetus unless the individual responsible for completing the medical certification for the death certificate is unable to complete the medical certification for the death certificate within the required time frame, additional inquiry into the cause and manner of death is required by current law, or a coroner, a medical examiner, a forensic pathologist, or other qualified individual determines that additional time is required to determine the cause and manner of death, in which case the certificate of death must be completed and signed as soon as practicable. Any individual, other than a family member of the decedent or other individual acting in a non-professional capacity as the funeral director for the decedent, who is required to initiate, complete, respond to, or file a death certificate must use the electronic death registration system (EDRS) used by the department of public health and environment (department) and the state registrar; except that, a physician who is not yet registered to use the EDRS is not required to use it until March 1, 2024, or the date the physician is registered, whichever is earlier. The department is required to ensure that all physicians are registered to use the EDRS on or before March 1, 2024.
The physician responsible for completing the medical certification for a death certificate must do so within 72 hours after receipt of an EDRS request unless current law requires additional inquiry into the cause and manner of death. If a death is or may be due to unnatural causes, a physician required to complete a medical certification for a death certificate shall notify the coroner or the medical examiner when current law requires an inquiry or an autopsy to be performed.
The act requires the state registrar to provide a monthly report to the department of regulatory agencies (DORA) that identifies any death certificates for which a medical certification was not completed in a timely manner, and DORA is required to promptly provide the report to the Colorado medical board. DORA is also required to report annually to its legislative oversight committees regarding the number of complaints that DORA received and the number of disciplinary actions taken against a licensee. On and after March 1, 2024, the act defines as "unprofessional conduct" for purposes of the "Colorado Medical Practices Act" repeated or willful failure without reasonable cause to comply with the requirements of completing a medical certification for a death certificate in accordance with any applicable deadline.
The act generally requires a decedent's established primary care physician to complete the medical certification for the decedent's death certificate if the death appears to be due to natural causes and is determined as such with a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the decedent received medical care from the primary care physician within a year of the death, the death occurred when the decedent was not under the direct care of another physician charged with the decedent's care during the illness or condition that resulted in death, and an inquiry into the death is not required. However, if within a year of the death, the decedent had been treated by a physician other than the decedent's established primary care physician for a chronic condition or terminal illness related to the decedent's death, the death appears to be due to natural causes and is determined as such with a reasonable degree of medical certainty, and an inquiry into the death is not required, that physician is responsible for completing the medical certification for the death certificate.
Any deadline in the act by which an individual is required to complete an action relating to a certificate of death or a medical certification for a certificate of death is extended by one day per day of closure if the business or facility at which the individual is employed is actually closed for an entire calendar day that is a weekend day or a legal holiday.
APPROVED by Governor May 1, 2023
EFFECTIVE August 7, 2023
NOTE: This act was passed without a safety clause and takes effect 90 days after sine die.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)