(a) A death certificate for each death which occurs in this state shall be filed with the state registrar of vital records or as otherwise directed by the state registrar within seven (7) calendar days after death and prior to removal of the body from the state, and shall be registered if it has been completed and filed in accordance with this section; provided:
(1) That if the place of death is unknown, a death certificate shall be filed with the state registrar of vital records or as otherwise directed by the state registrar within seven (7) calendar days after the occurrence; and
(2) That if death occurs in a moving conveyance, a death certificate shall be filed with the state registrar of vital records or as otherwise directed by the state registrar.
(b) The funeral director, his or her duly authorized agent, or person acting as agent, who first assumes custody of a dead body, shall file the death certificate. He or she shall obtain the personal data from the next of kin or the best qualified person or source available. He or she shall obtain the medical certification of cause of death from the person responsible for certification.
(c) A physician, after the death of a person whom he or she has attended during his or her last illness, or the physician declaring that person dead, or if the death occurred in a hospital, a registered hospital medical officer duly appointed by the hospital director or administrator, shall immediately furnish for registration a standard certificate of death to a funeral director or other authorized person or any member of the family of the deceased, stating to the best of his or her knowledge and belief the name of the deceased, the disease of which he or she died, where it was contracted, the duration of the illness from which he or she died, when last seen alive by the physician, or, if death occurs in a hospital, when last seen alive by a physician and the date of death.
(d) When death occurred without medical attendance as set forth in subsection (c) or when inquiry is required by chapter 4 of this title, the medical examiner shall investigate the cause of death and shall complete and sign the medical certification within forty-eight (48) hours after taking charge of the case.
(G.L. 1896, ch. 100, §§ 7, 9; P.L. 1897, ch. 452, § 1; G.L. 1909, ch. 121, §§ 7, 9; P.L. 1910, ch. 575, § 2; G.L. 1923, ch. 166, § 6; G.L. 1938, ch. 268, § 6; impl. am. P.L. 1939, ch. 660, §§ 180, 182; P.L. 1960, ch. 24, § 1; G.L. 1956, §§ 23-3-9 to 23-3-11; G.L. 1956, § 23-3-16; P.L. 1961, ch. 87, § 1; P.L. 1975, ch. 293, § 1; P.L. 1977, ch. 110, § 1; P.L. 2000, ch. 164, § 1.)