Korean J Leg Med.  2017 Aug;41(3):61-66. 10.7580/kjlm.2017.41.3.61.

Analysis of Death Certificate Errors of a University Hospital Emergency Room

  • 1Department of Scientific Criminal Investigation, Chungnam National University, Daejeon, Korea.
  • 2Department of Nursing, Chungnam National University, Daejeon, Korea.
  • 3Department of Forensic Medicine, Chungnam National University College of Medicine, Daejeon, Korea. cslee@cnu.ac.kr


This study aimed to analyze the errors and their causes in inappropriately completed death certificates, and to suggest improvement measures. The death certificate is an important medical document that proves the cause and manner of death. However, a death certificate is not as valuable as a medical document, since many death certificates are inappropriately completed and thus provide inaccurate information. We reviewed 307 death certificates issued by the Emergency Room of Chung Nam National University Hospital between January 1, 2015, and November 31, 2016, and compared their details with the cause and manner of death in the patients' medical records. Among various errors, the most common was "omission of other significant information not related to the cause of death" (184 cases). On 29 death certificates, the mechanism of death was recorded instead of the cause of death. When comparing death certificates and medical records, discrepancies in the cause and manner of death were found in 13 (4.2%) and 17 (5.5%) cases respectively. Although the contents of a death certificate may vary according to a physician's point of view, multiple errors on death certificates should be avoided, and we suggest necessary improvement measures.


Death certificates; Cause of death

MeSH Terms

Cause of Death
Death Certificates*
Emergency Service, Hospital*
Medical Records
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