Funeral Industry News
Funeral Directors Asked Not To Request Medical Certificates Of Cause Of Death
Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (Form 11) and Certificate of Registration of Death (Form 14)
The Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) (also known a Form 11) is a legal document. Registered medical practitioners involved in the care of the deceased prior to death and/or who have access to their clinical records, are responsible for completing MCCDs and certifying the cause of death.
Doctors have a common law duty of confidentiality, even after death. Funeral directors do not require, and should not request the MCCD from doctors, registrars, or the next of kin in order to undertake preparations in advance of the funeral, e.g. embalming. The clinical and personal details recorded on the MCCD are confidential.
What funeral directors require is the Form 14, (the Certificate of Registration of Death). This document contains all the relevant information that the funeral director needs to know with regard to any hazards.
In ordinary circumstances a body can be embalmed prior to the death being registered.
A MCCD may be selected for random review by the Death Certification Review Service. There is always potential that a case selected for review will be reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and that a post mortem examination could be instructed.
If funeral directors wish to start the embalming process quickly, following instruction from their client, they should encourage their clients to register the death as soon as possible.
However in deaths where the funeral director has been informed at the outset that the circumstances are to be reported to the Procurator Fiscal, embalming should not be commenced until the Procurator Fiscal has confirmed the body can be released.
For more information on the electronic transfer of medical certificates of cause of death (MCCD) from health services to registrars and next of kin during the COVID-19 pandemic, see the guidance here.