I was particularly interested in Freda’s cause of death as she only managed to live about 7 years longer than Rosa who died of liver cancer. I wondered if she had succumbed to the same illness.
I glanced through the unfamiliar record—a New York City death certificate—and could not find the cause of death. I’ll find it when I get home and take a closer look at the copy.
Last week I finally got to comb through the document. I hadn’t seen the cause of death previously because there was no cause of death listed. There wasn’t even a blank for it. What in the world?!
The attending physician simply certified that she died entirely due to natural causes at the age of 60 (she was actually 61!).
Not to be stymied, I quickly got online and fired off a couple of emails to New York inquiring about this lack of information. I received two replies. One fellow was equally stumped about the business but the other, while he did not know the answer, gave me a phone number to call and an address.
The lady who answered at “New York 311” was very kind, but didn’t have an answer. She did, however, know who issues death certificates, so she connected me to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
The NYCDH&MH almost gave me a cramp in my mental health. After punching every number (plus pound and star!!) I came to the realization that the automated menu was only ever going to allow me to correct or request a birth or death certificate. There would be no human with whom to speak. *ARRRGH!*
I hung up and wrote a brief letter to the NYCDH&MH asking for an explanation about the lack of a cause of death.
Then I began to write this blogpost. After the first paragraph it occurred to me, You need the answer in order to write this you dope!
So I went back to the internet and began to web crawl through statistics and articles and finally, I EUREKA-ED!!
Regarding death certificates issued by New York CITY:
“There are two forms, one for natural causes and one for medical examiner cases.
•Natural cause practitioner certificates - Most deaths (85%) are due to natural causes.
•Medical examiner certificate of death - When the cause of death is an accident, homicide, suicide, or is unattended or due to certain other circumstances (approximately 15% of deaths), the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) completes the medical examiner certificate of death and supplementary report.
The two forms are similar. Both collect important information pertaining to the fact of death…. Both collect “personal particulars”….Both collect cause of death, which is completed by the physician or a medical examiner. On the natural cause certificate, the cause of death is entered on the confidential medical report, the OCME certificate, and on the death certificate itself. In addition to cause of death, the OCME certificate collects information on the circumstances of external causes of death. The OCME certificate indicates manner of death: natural, accident, homicide, suicide, or undetermined. The confidential medical report information is for the compilation of public health statistics and scientific purposes only.” [emphasis mine]
Huh, well what do you know?
I suppose I’ll wait for a reply from the NYCDH&MH and then send them a request for the confidential medical report in order to determine Freda’s cause of death.
"Summary of Vital Statistics 2010, The City of New York." POPULATION AND MORTALITY (2011): 52. www.nyc.gov. Bureau of Vital Statistics, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Web. 17 Sept. 2015.