Death Certificates for Families

 

GUIDANCE FOR FAMILIES REGARDING DEATH CERTIFICATES

Louisiana law provides that the last physician to attend a decedent within 10 days of death must complete and execute a death certificate within 24 hours of death. A physician who willfully and knowingly neglects or refuses to complete and sign a death certificate within the time allotted by law may be subject to criminal prosecution, incarceration and civil fines. Equally significant, the Board may consider such a failure to constitute professional incompetency or unprofessional conduct, providing grounds for disciplinary action against  a physician’s license.

Not only do the penalties of the Louisiana Medical Practice Act apply, but the Vital Records penalties also apply. The completion and/or execution of a legal document, such as a death certificate, by one other than the physician whose name is signed to the document is an unlawful activity which subjects an offender to civil penalties and/or criminal prosecution by a district attorney or Louisiana Attorney General for a felony or misdemeanor.  Similarly, a physician or coroner who willfully and knowingly neglects or refuses to complete and sign a death certificate within the time allotted by law, is also subject to criminal and civil fines.

If you feel that a physician is not fulfilling his responsibility in this regard with appropriate timeliness, you are welcome to submit a complaint to the Board.  Please go to http://www.lsbme.la.gov/content/investigations for full instructions.