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Benefits of using Death Documents
Here's some key reasons for using the Death Documents online service compared to submitting paper certificates:
- It is easier for health practitioners to complete the forms accurately.
- Health practitioners can complete the forms anywhere, anytime, on any device with internet access including computer, tablet, and mobile devices.
- Documents submitted online are sent to Te Whatu Ora-Health NZ within an hour in a simple, connected and trusted way. It means that notification to the health sector about someone’s death happens more quickly and reduces the risk of an appointment reminder being sent to a deceased person.
- Documents submitted online are immediately available for funeral directors to view. This means they can commence the burial and cremation arrangements sooner, and it is easier for them to register the death with the Department of Internal Affairs.
What you can do with Death Documents
- Medical practitioners and nurse practitioners can complete the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (HP4720) and Cremation Forms B and AB online on the Death Documents website.
- The online cause of death and cremation forms are integrated to minimise the duplication of information entered by the health practitioner. They can then be printed out as separate certificates, each containing the required information.
- Forms completed online can also be amended online.
- Once registered to use Death Documents the medical or nurse practitioner's name and business contact details will auto populate into any new certificate they complete online.
- Integration with the National Health Index (NHI) is available to pre-populate the deceased person’s details to make it quicker for health practitioners to complete the forms.
- Faster updating of the dates of death on the NHI.
- Funeral directors can view, download a PDF or print the online medical certificates and cremation forms.
- Health practitioners no longer need to print and sign the digital certificates for funeral directors as the funeral directors can access them online. However, where death occurred in hospital your hospital may require you to print a copy of the medical certificate of cause of death to file in the patient's notes.
- Health practitioners can search for and view documents completed by other health practitioners. If the certifying practitioner is not available and a printed copy of the form is required a practitioner can search for and view, print or download the certificate.
- Medical referees can search for and view documents that they are required to referee. Note: granting Permission to Cremate (Form F) is still paper based for the time being.
- Hospital Mortuary Technicians can search for and view documents for deceased persons in their hospital’s mortuary.
- Assisted Dying Death Reports can be entered into Death Documents
- Practitioners can revoke a document if the death is subsequently referred to the coroner
- Viewers will be notified if changes have been made and a new version of a document is created
- Practitioners are alerted if a document already exists for the NHI they are certifying
- Practitioners can add a free text comment on the certificate if they think there is additional important information that needs to be communicated
- Hospital staff in other roles e.g., clinical managers and clinical coders, can access Death Documents to view documents. Those managing body bequests, city council cemetery staff helping families with arranging funerals without a funeral director, and administration staff from the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and Health New Zealand (HNZ) are also able to access Documents. To request access for your organisation email firstname.lastname@example.org and an organisation agreement will be sent out for you to review, complete and return.
- Medical practitioners and nurse practitioners in hospitals and in general practice can use Death Documents to report a death to the coroner.
Read about the latest updates made to the Death Documents online service in Roll-out updates.
Future enhancements to Death Documents include:
- allow medical referees to grant Permission to Cremate (Form F) online
- notification of deaths to Department of Internal Affairs
- Certificate of Causes of Fetal and Neonatal Death HP4721
- access to Death Documents for midwives (to complete HP4721)
- exploring the possibility of creating a single sign-on and PMS integration.
Help the uptake of Death Documents
Spread the word
Adoption of the Death Documents online service is important to enable its full benefits to be realised.
We want you to share the benefits of using Death Documents with health practitioners who regularly complete these forms.
Some resources have been specifically developed to enable you to engage your teams in the use of the Death Documents website. You can:
- keep up to date by visiting our Death Documents project page for project implementation information
- share the podcast interview of a medical referee discussing the accurate information needed when certifying cause of death
- share the Death Documents - Getting started handout with doctors and nurse practitioners. It explains how to get started in Death Documents.
Death Documents: Champions
Role of a champion
The Death Documents champion role is that of liaison with the Ministry project team, including assisting them to troubleshoot any issues that arise, and supporting colleagues on an ongoing basis.
Interested in becoming a champion?
If you're interested in becoming a champion, contact a Death Documents project team member: Project contacts
To find out more about how others have championed the uptake of Death Documents in their organisation, contact one of our champions in the list of contacts.
|Auckland||Dr Bart Nuysinck||General Practitioner, Selwyn Village Medical Centre||Procare Networks Ltdemail@example.com||09 845 0723|
|AucklandAucklandAuckland||Dr Deborah Waxman||General Practitioner, Medical Director||Waxman Medical Ltd, Aucklandfirstname.lastname@example.org@email@example.com@firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Auckland||Dr Mahesh Patel||Clinical Director||Total Healthcare Charitable Trustemail@example.com|
|Auckland||Dr Ajay Makal||Clinical Director, Professional Development, GP Liaison||Comprehensive Care PHOfirstname.lastname@example.org||09 415 1091|
|Auckland||Anju Verma||Practice Advisor||Alliance Health Plus (AH+)||AnjuV@alliancehealth.org.nz||021 823 149|
|Auckland, Waikato, Whanganui||Robyn Finucane||Practice Support Nurse||National Hauora Coalitionemail@example.com||027 223 9627|
|Auckland||Wayde Hemp||Practice Management System Support Facilitator||Auckland PHO Ltd||Wayde@aucklandpho.co.nz||021 599 029|
|Auckland||Dr Allan Moffitt (with support of Business Services team)||Clinical Director||ProCare PHOfirstname.lastname@example.org||027 232 9151|
|Auckland East||Cathy Martin||Practice Operation & Quality Manager||East Health Trust PHO||Cathym@easthealth.co.nz|
|Whakatane||Jess Rule||General Practice Liaison||Eastern Bays Primary Health Alliance||Jess.email@example.com||021 161 5697|
|Waikato||Rachel Hale||Nurse Practitioner||Residential Eldercare Servicedfirstname.lastname@example.org||027 451 0531|
|Waikato||Tania Herewini||Practice Relationship Manager||Hauraki PHO||Tania.Herewini@haurakipho.org.nz|
|Rotorua||Lisa Hughes||GP Liaison, Lakes DHB||Lakes DHB||Lisa.Hughes@lakesdhb.govt.nz|
|East Coast, North Island||Bobbie Cameron||Manager, Primary Care||Ngati Porou Hauora Charitable Trustemail@example.com||021 061 9632|
|Taranaki||Dr Greg Simmons||Chief Medical Advisor
||Taranaki DHB||Greg.Simmons@tdhb.org.nz||06 753 6139 ext 8623|
|Whanganui||Trish Newton||Clinical Quality and Risk Advisor||Whanganui District Health Boardfirstname.lastname@example.org||027 496 8682|
|Whanganui||Tai Turia||Contracts Facilitator||Whanganui Regional Health Networkemail@example.com||06 348 0109|
|Hawke's Bay||Dr Greg Beacham Dr Greg Beacham||General Practitioner||Hawkes Bay||Greg@beacham.co.nz||027 473 5432|
|Hawke's Bay||Lynda Corner||General Practice Systems
Developer & Support
|Health Hawke's Bay PHO - Te Oranga Hawke's Bay||Lynda.Corner@healthhb.co.nz||022 026 0220|
|Lucie Elwin||Network Support Coordinator||THINK Hauora||NS@thinkhauora.nz
|027 667 7828|
|Dr Jamal Bawazier-Edgecumbe||Medical Registrar (RMO), MidCentral DHB||Palmerston North Hospital
|firstname.lastname@example.org||027 826 3356|
|Hutt Valley||Bronwyn White||Practice Sustainability
|Te Awakairangi Health Network||Bronwyn.W@teahn.org.nz||04 570 3208|
|Wellington||Dr Dick Dinsdale||Chair, Mortality Review Committee||Capital & Coast DHB||Dick.Dinsdale@ccdhb.org.nz||04 385 5999|
|Wellington||Julie Hildreth||Team Leader, Mortuary||Wellington Hospital||Julie.Hildreth@wellingtonscl.co.nz||04 381 5900|
|Canterbury||Kate Grundy||Palliative Care Physician, Canterbury DHB||Christchurch, Burwood, Hillmorton & Ashburton Hospital, Nurse Maude Hospice||Kate.Grundy@cdhb.health.nz|
|Karen Bolch||Project Manager - Practice Network Team||WellSouth PHOemail@example.com||03 477 1163
021 196 1275
|John McArthur||Investigations Coordinator||Southern DHB Hospitals||John.firstname.lastname@example.org||03 4709143|
Death Documents Project Contacts
If you have any queries or need more information about the Death Documents project, please get in touch with one of the following key contacts.
Christine Fowler, Manager
Anne Goodwin, Senior Business Analyst
Joanne Maxwell, Advisor at DIA
Updates for health practitioners, medical referees and funeral directors on implementation of the Death Documents project.
- Coroner Report
Medical practitioners and nurse practitioners can now use Death Documents to report deaths to the coroner. This new function asks a series of screening questions to guide the practitioner through the reporting requirements then provides a firm recommendation to either complete and submit a Coroner Report or complete a medical certificate of cause of death (because the death does not need to be reported to the coroner). This new method of reporting deaths to the coroner should be used by practitioners in both hospitals and general practice. Coroners are keen for all referrals to be made using Death Documents as soon as possible. It will replace the Hospital Record of Death (HROD) form that is currently used in hospitals to report a death to the coroner.
In some hospitals an HROD is completed for every death (not just those reported to the coroner). This is not a coronial requirement. Hospitals are encouraged to review their processes and guidance for certifying practitioners, and to transition to using Death Documents for all cause of death certification and reporting of deaths to the coroner.
GPs have previously phoned the coroner to report a death. They are now encouraged to report the death using Death Documents.
The practitioner creates a document following a similar process as for a medical certificate of cause of death (MCCD). They complete information about the deceased’s identity, and then answer questions that guide them to make the correct decision to report the death to the coroner or complete an MCCD. The practitioner has an opportunity to review all the details they have entered before submitting the report, The coroner’s office (NIIO) is notified immediately, and the death is reported to Te Whatu Ora so that the NHI record can be updated with the date of death. NIIO will register the report and contact the practitioner by phone within 2 hours to confirm whether they have taken the case.
If you need help getting started on Death Documents see the roll-out resources page or contact one of the team.
- Other Information
A new free text field where a certifier can enter important information they think needs to be shared with the funeral director or other users of the document.
- Searching for documents
The search criteria is relaxed so that results will include deaths from a day on either side of the entered search date.
- Other roles can get access
Hospital staff in other roles e.g., clinical managers and clinical coders, are able to access Death Documents to view documents. This will reduce the need to print documents or make PDF copies. Other users will also be able to get access. These include those managing body bequests, city council cemetery staff helping families with arranging funerals without a funeral director, and administration staff from the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and Health New Zealand (HNZ). These users play a key role in ensuring complete and accurate information is recorded on death registrations and in health records. To request access for your organisation email email@example.com and an organisation agreement will be sent out to be completed.
- Duplicate Certificates
An alert message will be received by a practitioner who starts to create a certificate for an NHI number that matches the NHI on an already submitted certificate, or the NHI on a draft certificate being created by another practitioner. The certifier can view the document that has already been created and/or continue to create a new certificate for that deceased person and provide a reason why a replacement certificate is required.
- Amending old certificates
There are no longer any date restrictions for practitioners to amend already submitted certificates, or to create new certificates in Death Documents. However, a warning is returned if the date of death is more than one week prior to the current date. The certifier can proceed to complete the amendment or new certificate after checking that the date of death is correct.
Note: An ‘Additional information’ free text field will be added in the next release to allow the certifying practitioner to add relevant notes about the certificate, e.g. why an amendment or a new certificate was required.
- Date Last Seen alive
The Date Last Seen Alive must be entered if you were the practitioner who attended the deceased during their last illness. A certifier who was not the attending practitioner can now also enter a Date Last Seen Alive, but it is optional. The entry ‘N/A’ will no longer be printed on the form. That field will be left blank if a date is not supplied.
- Default settings for question related to pregnancy
The question ‘Was the deceased pregnant at the time of death?” will be defaulted to ‘No’ if the deceased is outside the usual age range for pregnancy (i.e. younger or older). The certifier can override the default setting if required.
- Assisted Dying
With the introduction of the End of Life Choice Act 2019 Death Documents will allow practitioners to complete the Assisted Dying Death Report. Implementation of the Act has also brought changes to the wording of some questions on the cremation form.
- Notifications when a document is updated
If a practitioner, mortuary technician or funeral director views a document and the document appears in their “Viewed Documents” list they will be notified whenever a change is made to the document. They will receive an email telling them the document has changed, including a link to the document.
- Revoke a document
Sometimes a practitioner may complete a document and subsequently the death is referred to the coroner. When this happens, you can now Revoke the document in Death Documents instead of ringing the Ministry of Health Contact Centre. To revoke a document click the VIEW/PRINT button then select the REVOKE THIS DOCUMENT button. It’s red and on the right hand side of the page above the Document number. You will be asked to enter a reason and then confirm you want the document revoked. Once revoked you will not be able to reinstate the document.
- Mortuary technicians registered with the Medical Sciences Council, who hold the appropriate mortuary qualifications and a current practicing certificate are now able to log in to Death Documents with RealMe and view the documentation for the deceased persons brought into their hospital’s mortuary.
- COVID-19 pandemic
During the current COVID-19 pandemic it is really important for all medical and nurse practitioners to certify deaths online using Death Documents.
- Searching for Death Documents completed by others
When required you can now search for documents completed by another practitioner online. If you are a medical referee you can search for and view online documents you are required to referee.
Note: At this stage the Permission to cremate (Form F) must still be completed on paper. Continue your usual process for this.
- Death Documents marketing
We have started a Death Documents marketing campaign to encourage more practitioners to start using Death Documents. The campaign uses both physical and digital channels.
- More Death Documents champions wanted
The Ministry is still seeking champions of the Death Documents online service to represent each district health board, especially to help spread the word alongside our marketing campaign.
- More Death Documents online
We now have over 10,000 certificates completed online and over 1,800 health practitioners around the country registered to use Death Documents.
- New look website
The Death Documents website has been updated to make more visually appealing, as well as being easier to use with bigger buttons and a clearer layout.
- Updated certificates
Certificates completed online have also been updated with a clearer layout and bolder answers to make them more scannable.
- Improved PDF
Improvements to the PDF allow funeral directors to copy and paste information directly from the downloaded certificates, rather than transcribing by eye. It’s now quicker, easier and more accurate to copy information onto death registrations.
- Out in the sector
The Death Documents stands at the 2019 GP Conferences and Medical Exhibitions in Rotorua and Christchurch were busy again with strong interest in using the online system over paper. Over 60 GPs and nurse practitioners that visited our stand created a Death Documents account on the spot and many more GPs and nurses saw a live demonstration and took away flyers and cards to share with their practice. Following each GP conference, we have seen a significant increase in the number of certificates completed online.
- Notifications feature
This feature allows funeral directors to save a search for a deceased person’s documents to get an email notification when a document that matches that search is completed online by a practitioner. Funeral directors will no longer have to log in to Death Documents multiple times a day to check if the documents have been completed.
- NHI Look-ups
Medical practitioners and nurse practitioners can now populate a deceased person's name and address details through a look-up of the National Health Index (NHI).
- Additional security measures
- The first time a practitioner logs on after the upgrade their details will be checked against the Health Provider Index (HPI). Their details must match those on their practising certificate.
- Each time a practitioner (or other user) logs on to Death Documents they will need to enter a code that will be sent to their mobile phone number provided to RealMe, or if used, Google Authenticator
- Only practitioners with a RealMe verified account will be able to look up the NHI.
- Becoming RealMe verified is now much easier for NZ passport holders. For information on how to become RealMe verified go to the RealMe website.
- More Death Documents online
We now have over 3000 certificates completed online and up to 1000 health practitioners around the country registered.
- Faster update of date of death
We now have dates of death being updated earlier on the NHI, particularly for those practitioners with a RealMe verified account.
Resources to help you engage your teams in the use of Death Documents.
Introducing Death Documents - YouTube: Death Documents Overview (4 mins, 30 secs)
A Death Documents video describing the digital initiative that brought death documentation online.
Other useful links
NZ Legislation website:
Send us your feedback
Improvements to the Death Documents online service is ongoing and we encourage you to let us know how the online processes can be further improved. To provide feedback you can:
- complete the short online survey in the Feedback section on the Death Documents website
- email a member of our project team listed in: Project contacts.