Inside the Lab

Ep21: Mythbusting Death Certificates

May 11, 2021 American Society for Clinical Pathology
Inside the Lab
Ep21: Mythbusting Death Certificates
Chapters
Inside the Lab
Ep21: Mythbusting Death Certificates
May 11, 2021
American Society for Clinical Pathology

An autopsy is the final chapter in a patient’s life. And while it can be a research tool, its underlying purpose is to give the family closure. So, what does the death certification process look like? How does the work of autopsy pathologists serve patients, their families, and the community at large? 

On this episode of Inside the Lab, our hosts Dr. Dan Milner and Ms. Kelly Swails are joined by Dr. Wendy Lavezzi, MD, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner for the Districts 5 and 24 Medical Examiner’s Office in Leesburg, Florida, Dr. Robert Padera, Jr., MD, PhD, Pathologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Associate Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Joneé M. Taylor, MD, MA, Deputy Medical Examiner for the District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and Dr. Alex K. Williamson, MD, Chief of Autopsy Pathology at Northwell Regional and Associate Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, to discuss death certificates. 

Our panelists introduce us to the vocabulary of the death certification process, explaining who can legally certify a death and what mistakes non-pathology physicians make in filling out death certificates. They weigh in on what differentiates the work of a medical autopsy pathologist from that of a forensic autopsy pathologist and describe the particular challenges they all faced during the pandemic. Listen in for our panelist's insight on the shortage of autopsy and forensic pathologists and what we can do to address that need. 

Topics Covered  

· Who can legally certify a death and when it’s appropriate to certify a death without an autopsy
· What differentiates the work of a medical autopsy pathologist from that of a forensic autopsy pathologist, and when they might work together
· Common mistakes non-pathology physicians make in filling out death certificates
· What the terms “cause,” “mechanism,” and “manner of death” mean in the formal death certification process
· The challenges in the death certification process during the pandemic
· Disparity challenges around death certification in the pandemic and the distinction between dying with COVID and dying of COVID 

Connect with ASCP
ASCP
ASCP on Facebook
ASCP on Twitter 

Connect with Dr. Lavezzi
Dr. Lavezzi on LinkedIn 

Connect with Dr. Padera
Dr. Padera on LinkedIn 

Connect with Dr. Taylor
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, District of Columbia 

Connect with Dr. Williamson
Dr. Williamson at Northwell Health
Books by Dr. Williamson 

Connect with Ms. Swails & Dr. Milner
Ms. Swails on Twitter
Dr. Milner on Twitter 

Resources
Inside the Lab in the ASCP Store 

Show Notes

An autopsy is the final chapter in a patient’s life. And while it can be a research tool, its underlying purpose is to give the family closure. So, what does the death certification process look like? How does the work of autopsy pathologists serve patients, their families, and the community at large? 

On this episode of Inside the Lab, our hosts Dr. Dan Milner and Ms. Kelly Swails are joined by Dr. Wendy Lavezzi, MD, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner for the Districts 5 and 24 Medical Examiner’s Office in Leesburg, Florida, Dr. Robert Padera, Jr., MD, PhD, Pathologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Associate Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Joneé M. Taylor, MD, MA, Deputy Medical Examiner for the District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and Dr. Alex K. Williamson, MD, Chief of Autopsy Pathology at Northwell Regional and Associate Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, to discuss death certificates. 

Our panelists introduce us to the vocabulary of the death certification process, explaining who can legally certify a death and what mistakes non-pathology physicians make in filling out death certificates. They weigh in on what differentiates the work of a medical autopsy pathologist from that of a forensic autopsy pathologist and describe the particular challenges they all faced during the pandemic. Listen in for our panelist's insight on the shortage of autopsy and forensic pathologists and what we can do to address that need. 

Topics Covered  

· Who can legally certify a death and when it’s appropriate to certify a death without an autopsy
· What differentiates the work of a medical autopsy pathologist from that of a forensic autopsy pathologist, and when they might work together
· Common mistakes non-pathology physicians make in filling out death certificates
· What the terms “cause,” “mechanism,” and “manner of death” mean in the formal death certification process
· The challenges in the death certification process during the pandemic
· Disparity challenges around death certification in the pandemic and the distinction between dying with COVID and dying of COVID 

Connect with ASCP
ASCP
ASCP on Facebook
ASCP on Twitter 

Connect with Dr. Lavezzi
Dr. Lavezzi on LinkedIn 

Connect with Dr. Padera
Dr. Padera on LinkedIn 

Connect with Dr. Taylor
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, District of Columbia 

Connect with Dr. Williamson
Dr. Williamson at Northwell Health
Books by Dr. Williamson 

Connect with Ms. Swails & Dr. Milner
Ms. Swails on Twitter
Dr. Milner on Twitter 

Resources
Inside the Lab in the ASCP Store