2002 Regular Session
To: Public Health and Welfare
By: Representative Holland
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 41-57-13, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT IN CHANCERY COURT PROCEEDINGS FOR AMENDMENTS TO A DEATH CERTIFICATE, THE STATE MEDICAL EXAMINER AND THE COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER OR COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER INVESTIGATOR WHO CERTIFIED THE INFORMATION SHALL BE MADE DEFENDANTS, IN ADDITION TO THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH; TO AMEND SECTION 41-61-65, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT IN CIRCUIT COURT PROCEEDINGS DISPUTING THE MEDICAL EXAMINER'S DETERMINATION IN AN AUTOPSY, THE STATE MEDICAL EXAMINER AND THE COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER OR COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER INVESTIGATOR WHO CERTIFIED THE INFORMATION SHALL BE MADE DEFENDANTS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 41-57-13, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
41-57-13. (1) Death certificate errors in the recording of personal information of the deceased may be corrected by affidavit of the informant and the funeral director of the funeral home that disposed of the body. Items in the medical certification or of a medical nature may be amended upon receipt of the specified amendment form from (a) the person originally certifying the information or, if deceased or incapacitated, from the person responsible for the completion of such items, or (b) the State Medical Examiner. All other amendments to a death certificate require adjudication by a chancery court in the county of residence of the complainant or in any chancery court district in the state if the complainant is a nonresident. In all such proceedings, the State Department of Health, the State Medical Examiner and the county medical examiner or county medical examiner investigator who certified the information shall be made defendants. No death certificate shall be changed or amended by the State Medical Examiner or any county medical examiner or county medical examiner investigator after he has resigned or been removed from his office as the State Medical Examiner, county medical examiner or county medical examiner investigator.
(2) The local registrar of births and deaths in each county in the state shall, at least monthly, supply the county registrar, the tax assessor and the chairman of the county election commission of each county a list of deaths in the counties of individuals of voting age who have not been previously listed. Such lists shall include the following information for each deceased person: full name (as recorded on the death certificate), social security number, date of death, sex, race, age and usual place of residence.
(3) No such payment as is provided for in Section 41-57-11 shall be made by the board of supervisors unless and until the local registrar shall certify that a list of all deaths of individuals of voting age has been filed with the county voting registrar, tax assessor and with the chairman of the county election commission of the last county of residence of the decedent in this state.
(4) In the event that the decedent is a female, who at the time of her death was between the ages of ten (10) and fifty (50) years old, the physician, medical examiner, coroner or other official who certifies the decedent's cause of death shall indicate, where appropriately designated, on the death certificate whether (a) the decedent was pregnant at the time of her death; (b) the decedent had given birth within the preceding ninety (90) days; or (c) the decedent had a miscarriage within the preceding ninety (90) days.
SECTION 2. Section 41-61-65, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
41-61-65. (1) If, in the opinion of the medical examiner investigating the case, it is advisable and in the public interest that an autopsy or other study be made for the purpose of determining the primary and/or contributing cause of death, an autopsy or other study shall be made by the State Medical Examiner or by a competent pathologist designated by the State Medical Examiner. The State Medical Examiner or designated pathologist may retain any tissues as needed for further postmortem studies or documentation. A complete autopsy report of findings and interpretations, prepared on forms designated for this purpose, shall be submitted promptly to the State Medical Examiner. Copies of the report shall be furnished to the authorizing medical examiner, district attorney and court clerk. A copy of the report shall be furnished to one (1) adult member of the immediate family of the deceased or the legal representative or legal guardian of members of the immediate family of the deceased upon request. In determining the need for an autopsy, the medical examiner may consider the request from the district attorney or county prosecuting attorney, law enforcement or other public officials or private persons. However, if the death occurred in the manner specified in subsection (2)(j) of Section 41-61-59, an autopsy shall be performed by the State Medical Examiner or his designated pathologist, and the report of findings shall be forwarded promptly to the State Medical Examiner, investigating medical examiner, the infant's attending physician and the local sudden infant death syndrome coordinator.
(2) Any medical examiner or duly licensed physician performing authorized investigations and/or autopsies as provided in Sections 41-61-51 through 41-61-79 who, in good faith, complies with the provisions of Sections 41-61-51 through 41-61-79 in the determination of the cause and/or manner of death for the purpose of certification of that death, shall not be liable for damages on account thereof, and shall be immune from any civil liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed.
(3) Family members or others who disagree with the medical examiner's determination shall be able to petition and present written argument to the State Medical Examiner for further review. If the petitioner still disagrees, he may petition the circuit court which may, in its discretion, hold a formal hearing. In all such proceedings, the State Medical Examiner and the county medical examiner or county medical examiner investigator who certified the information shall be made defendants. All costs of the petitioning and hearing shall be borne by the petitioner.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2002.