Beginning June 1, Texas physicians who are asked to sign a death certificate must now do so electronically or face fines of up to $500 per violation.
House Bill 1739 — which took effect in 2007 — requires a medical certifier on a death certificate to submit the medical certification and attest to its validity electronically. Physicians must register with the Texas Electronic Death Registrar (TEDR) before signing a death certificate. Any physician who signs a death certificate, and is not registered with TEDR, could be fined $500 by the Texas Medical Board. The Texas Department of State Health Services operates the TEDR.
Physicians should also note that signing a paper death certificate — even if you are registered with the TEDR — is now considered illegal. Therefore, do not sign a paper death certificate.
Physicians can register at the TEDR web site.
"It is currently taking about two weeks to process a physician's electronic registration through the TEDR. If a physician waits and tries to sign up after a patient dies, it will be too late and the physician will be fined by the Medical Board. A public notice of that fine will be posted on the Board's web site for the rest of the physician's career," says Austin attorney Dan Ballard.
House Bill 1739 is codified in the Health and Safety Code, Title 3, Chapter 193, Section 193.005. Though the legislation went into effect in 2007, the Texas Medical Board began enforcing it in 2011.