(a) A death certificate for each death that 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:
Terms Used In Rhode Island General Laws 23-3-16
- Dead body: means a lifeless human body or parts of a lifeless human body or its bones from the state of which it reasonably may be concluded that death recently occurred. See Rhode Island General Laws 23-3-1
- Decedent: A deceased person.
- person: extends to and includes co-partnerships and bodies corporate and politic. See Rhode Island General Laws 43-3-6
- Physician: means a person authorized or licensed to practice medicine pursuant to chapter 37 of title 5. See Rhode Island General Laws 23-3-1
- Registration: means the acceptance by the division of vital records and the incorporation in its official records of certificates, reports, or other records provided for in this chapter, or births, deaths, fetal deaths, adoptions, marriages, or divorces. See Rhode Island General Laws 23-3-1
- Vital records: means records of birth, death, fetal death, marriage, divorce, and data related to those records. See Rhode Island General Laws 23-3-1
(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. The death certificate shall indicate the following:
(1) The sex of the decedent shall be recorded to reflect the decedent’s gender identity, as reported by the next of kin or the best qualified person available, unless the person completing the death certificate is presented with a document that memorializes the decedent’s gender transition. In case of conflicting information on the sex of the decedent from the sources, the death certificate shall be based on documentation that memorializes the decedent’s gender transition. Documents that may memorialize a gender transition include: written instructions from the decedent; a court order approving a name or gender change; an advance health care directive; documentation of an appropriate course of treatment for the purpose of gender transition; documentation of a change to the gender marker on a birth certificate; or a state or federally issued identification card, or any additional document as authorized by the Rhode Island department of health. If more than one document is presented and the documents are in conflict regarding the decedent’s gender identity, the most recent document that memorializes the decedent’s gender transition shall prevail. If documentation is not available, it shall be based on information from individuals most familiar with the decedent’s gender identity at the time of death.
(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; P.L. 2018, ch. 85, § 1; P.L. 2018, ch. 93, § 1.)