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Revista Uruguaya de Cardiología

On-line version ISSN 1688-0420


BERRO ROVIRA, Guido. Sobre la certificación de la defunción. Rev.Urug.Cardiol. [online]. 2012, vol.27, n.1, pp.44-53. ISSN 1688-0420.

Summary  The objective of the article herein is eminently practical; it aims to highlight the relevance of proper medical and technical performance, as well as the importance of medical ethics. The paper deals with an ever-prominent subject that poses many interrogations, i.e., the correct issuance of a death certificate, and how to use this core medico legal document that has great administrative and legal impact, and that provides epidemiological data of great value for the development of health policies. Thus, after a general introduction to medical certificates, defining the notions and depicting their importance and their ethical, medical and legal significance, the paper specifically addresses the death certificate. The author discusses its importance under various visions and gives an overview of the current rules governing its use and issuance, including the national form in force and the WHO's international guidelines on the matter. References are made to the novel electronic implementation and correct use of the tool. Who and when should sign the death certificate depending on the potential range of forms and causes of death? What are the obligations, prohibitions and circumstances under which the treating doctor's signature may be optional? When should it be issued by the attending physician, and when should it be left to a coroner? How does it relate with the autopsy? A reflection on ethical issues such as confidentiality or preservation of medical secrecy after death occurs. The paper addresses the importance of correctly establishing the causes of death for the benefit of public health, and ends with the appropriate references and applicable norms.


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