Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Delaware: Death Certificate Falsification Requires Opposition to HB 160

Kirk Allison, PhD
Dear Legislators:

I directed the Program in Human Rights and Health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health from 2006-2016 and am a past chair of the American Public Health Association's Ethics Special Primary Interest Group (now Ethics Section).

While working on my dissertation I was a visiting preceptor (research rotation) at the Hennepin County (Minnesota) Medical Examiner's Office. It was greatly impressed upon me the need for scientific accuracy in the medico-legal documentations of death.

HB 160 states regarding death by lethal ingestion, "The death certificate must list the underlying terminal illness as the cause of death."

The falsification of medical-legal documents for the sake of social sensibilities and legal impunity will protect abuse by making systematic patterns non-tracable and non-prosecutable.

It constitutes a form of state-imposed corruption of physicians and registrars which does not protect the public, nor the integrity of the public health vital records and data. It is done for no other context where possible stigma is present (deaths from overdose, alcohol, or socially stigmatized diseases).

You should oppose this measure.


Kirk C. Allison, PhD, MS