The standard U.S. death certificate includes information identifying the deceased, the date, time, and place of death, immediate and underlying causes, as well as the deceased's education, race and ethnicity.
Identifying information includes legal name and aliases, gender, age, date and place of birth, and last known address. The certificate of death also indicates martial status, names of spouse and parents and confirmation of any military service. It may provide specific information for deaths caused by traffic accidents or tobacco use, or whether a female was pregnant at time of death.
Part one in the cause of death section of the death certificate details the events leading to death, beginning backward from the final condition that resulted in death. Part two includes other conditions that contributed to death, but did not lead to the ultimate cause of death. While state laws and death certificate formats vary, all death certificates require medical certification.
Information regarding the immediate and underlying causes of death is significant information not only to family members, but also informs prevention efforts nationally and internationally and the funding of medical research. The U.S. standard death certificate, published by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Center for Disease Control, complies with International Classification of Diseases, an activity of the World Health Organization, in an effort to create a reliable worldwide health database.