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Importance of Death Registration

The death certificate is important for three basic reasons:

Legal Reasons: The death certificate is a permanent legal record of the fact of death.  Oklahoma law stipulates that a death certificate is to be filed (63 OS 1-317(a)).  Therefore, it is a legal requirement.  It provides important information about:  the decedent, the cause of death, and final disposition.  This information is used in the application for insurance benefits, settlement of pension claims, and transfer of title of real and personal property.  The certificate is prima facie evidence of the fact of death and, therefore, can be introduced in court as evidence when a question about the death arises. 

Personal Reasons: The death certificate in many cases provides family members with closure, peace of mind, and documentation of the cause of death.  It also provides peace of mind by facilitating efficient processing of needed benefits as those described above.

Vital Statistics Reasons: The death certificate is the source for state and national mortality statistics.  It is needed for a variety of medical and health-related research efforts.  It is used to determine which medical conditions receive research and development funding, to set public health goals and policies, and to measure health status at local, state, national, and international levels.  This data is valuable as a research tool and by influencing research funding. 

Statistical data derived from death certificates can be no more accurate than the information on the certificate.  Therefore, it is important that everyone involved with the registration of deaths strives for complete, accurate, and prompt reporting of these events. 

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