SENATE BILL 6380
State of Washington 52nd Legislature 1992 Regular Session
By Senators Bauer and McCaslin
Read first time 01/28/92. Referred to Committee on Health & Long‑Term Care.
AN ACT Relating to death certificates; and adding new sections to chapter 70.58 RCW.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. A new section is added to chapter 70.58 RCW to read as follows:
(1) A certificate of death for each death that occurs in this state shall be filed with the local registrar of the district in which the death or fetal death occurred within three working days after a death is known and prior to final disposition. All items on the death certificate form shall be completed.
(a) If the place of death is unknown but the dead body is found in Washington state, the certificate of death shall be completed and filed in accordance with this section. The place where the body is found shall be shown as the place of death. If the date of death is unknown, it shall be determined by approximation.
(b) If the death occurs in a moving conveyance in the United States and the body is first removed from the conveyance in Washington state, the death shall be registered in Washington state and the place where the body is first removed shall be considered the place of death. If a death occurs in a moving conveyance while in international waters or air space or in a foreign country or its air space and the body is first removed from the conveyance in Washington state, the death shall be registered in Washington state but the certificate shall show the actual place of death insofar as can be determined.
(2) The funeral director or person acting as such who first assumes custody of the dead body shall file the certificate of death. He or she shall obtain the personal data from the next of kin or the best qualified person or source available and shall obtain the cause of death from the attending physician, coroner, or medical examiner.
(3) The cause of death section shall be completed, signed, and returned to the funeral director within forty-eight hours after death by the physician in attendance or physician's designee at the time of death according to his or her best knowledge and belief. If there is no attending physician or physician's designee or if the attending physician and the physician's designee will be unavailable for signature for forty-eight hours after death, the certificate shall be completed and signed by one of the following:
(a) A physician who has access to the decedent's medical history;
(b) The physician, coroner, or medical examiner who performed an autopsy upon the decedent;
(c) The chief medical officer of the institution in which the death occurred;
(d) The coroner or medical examiner, if the decedent died suddenly when in apparent good health and without medical attendance within thirty-six hours preceding death;
(e) The coroner or medical examiner, or the prosecuting attorney in their absence, if such individual has access to the decedent's medical history or views the deceased, and death is due to natural causes.
(4) If the circumstances suggest that the death was caused by unlawful or unnatural causes, the coroner or medical examiner shall determine the cause of death and shall complete and sign the medical certification within forty-eight hours after taking charge of the case.
(5) If the cause of death cannot be determined within forty-eight hours after death, the attending physician, coroner, or medical examiner shall state the cause of death is pending investigation or unknown and return the death certificate to the funeral director or the person acting as such. If the cause of death becomes known, the attending physician, coroner, or medical examiner shall complete an affidavit for correction and file it with the local registrar.
(6) Final disposition or removal from the state of Washington shall not be made until authorized by the local registrar or subdeputy local registrar.
(7) The state registrar may authorize electronic death registration and create a state-wide death data base. The department may authorize local registrars to access this data base under RCW 70.58.065.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 2. A new section is added to chapter 70.58 RCW to read as follows:
The secretary of health may authorize a licensee in each funeral home to serve as subdeputy registrar to initiate, sign, and file the death certificate and issue the burial-transit permit. The subdeputy registrar shall file the death certificate with the local registrar in the registration district in which the death occurred.