Alabama Code Title 22. Health, Mental Health, and Environmental Control § 22-9A-14
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(a) A certificate of death for each death which occurs in this state shall be filed with the Office of Vital Statistics, or as otherwise directed by the State Registrar, within five days of the death and shall be registered if it has been completed and filed in accordance with this section.
(1) If the place of death is not known, but the dead body is found in this state, the certificate of death shall be completed and filed in accordance with this section. The county where the body is found shall be shown on the certificate as the county of death. If the date of death is unknown, the date the dead body was found shall be shown on the certificate as the date of death.
(2) When death occurs in a moving conveyance in the United States and the body is first removed from the conveyance in this state, the death shall be registered in this state and the county where it is first removed shall be considered as the county of death. When a death occurs on a moving conveyance while in international waters or air space or in a foreign country and the body is first removed from the conveyance in this state, the death shall be registered in this state but the certificate shall show the actual place of death if it can be determined.
(b) The funeral director or person acting as the funeral director who first assumes custody of the dead body shall file the certificate of death. He or she shall obtain the personal and statistical data from the next of kin or the best qualified person or source available and shall forward the certificate to the person responsible for completion of the medical certification.
(c) The physician in charge of the care of the patient for the illness or condition that resulted in death shall complete and sign the medical certification and transmit the certificate to the Office of Vital Statistics in the manner directed by the State Registrar, within 48 hours after receipt of the certificate. In the absence of the physician, the certificate may be completed and signed by another physician designated by the physician, or the certificate may be completed and signed by the chief medical officer of the institution in which death occurred or by the physician who performed an autopsy upon the decedent. Deaths required to be reported to the county medical examiner or coroner shall be reported whether the cause is known or suspected, primary or contributory, or recent, delayed, or remote.
(d) When the death occurs with no physician in charge of the care of the patient for the illness or condition that resulted in death, the county medical examiner, if one has been appointed, the State Medical Examiner, if he or she examines the body, or if neither occurs, the coroner shall determine the cause of death. In all cases, the medical certification shall be completed and signed and the certificate forwarded to the Office of Vital Statistics, or as otherwise directed by the State Registrar, within 48 hours after receipt of the certificate. This section shall not diminish the duty of the coroner to hold inquests.
(e) If the cause of death cannot be determined within 48 hours after receipt of the certificate, the physician, county medical examiner, State Medical Examiner, or coroner shall indicate the medical certification as “PENDING” and shall sign the certificate. Immediately after the medical or other data necessary for determining the cause of death have been made known, the physician, county medical examiner, State Medical Examiner, or coroner shall, over his or her signature, forward the cause of death to the State Registrar. If the physician has reason to believe that the case is within the jurisdiction of the county medical examiner or coroner, he or she shall immediately report the case to the county medical examiner or coroner and shall advise the funeral director of this fact. If the county medical examiner or coroner does not assume jurisdiction, the physician shall sign the medical certification.
(f) When a death occurs in an institution and the death is not under the jurisdiction of the county medical examiner or coroner, the person in charge of the institution or his or her designated representative, shall initiate the preparation of the death certificate within 24 hours of death as follows:
(1) The full name of the decedent and the date of death shall be placed on the death certificate in the designated spot.
(2) The medical certification of death and the signature of the physician shall be obtained from the attending physician.
(3) The partially completed death certificate shall be presented to the funeral director or the person acting as the funeral director within 72 hours of death.
(g) When a death is presumed to have occurred in this state but the body cannot be located, a death certificate may be prepared by the State Registrar upon receipt of an order of a court of competent jurisdiction, that shall include the finding of facts required to complete the death certificate. The death certificate shall be marked “PRESUMPTIVE” and shall show on its face the date of registration and shall identify the court and date of decree.
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