N.J. Admin. Code § 13:35-6.2

Current through Register Vol. 54, No. 42, September 18, 2023
Section 13:35-6.2 - Pronouncement of death
(a) The following words and terms, when used in this section, shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

"Attending physician" means any Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) who, prior to the person's death, had attended, supervised or directed medical treatment of the patient as a primary care physician or as a specialist undertaking to treat a significant chronic medical illness, which could lead to death. A physician providing such treatment, who has issued or renewed a prescription issued to the person within the 12-month period preceding the death, will be deemed to be an attending physician, regardless of whether the physician has personally examined the person within that 12-month period.

"Certificate of death" means the official document prepared for filing pursuant to 26:6-6 et seq. which is signed by a physician and sets forth the information pertaining to a person's last sickness, immediate and contributing causes of death and burial and the identity of the medical personnel who made the pronouncement of death.

"Covering physician" means any physician who has assumed the responsibility for providing care and treatment to an attending physician's patients during his or her unavailability. A covering physician shall also bear a responsibility to exercise his or her best medical judgment when making a pronouncement of death or drawing the conclusions called for in completing the certificate of death.

"Pronouncement of death" means the act of conducting an inquiry concerning the circumstances of a death, checking for vital signs, ascertaining pertinent history and, where appropriate, performing a complete external examination of the unclothed body and providing a medical opinion as to conclusion and cause(s) of the death.

(b) Every physician licensed by the Board and engaged in the active practice of medicine in this State shall ensure that he or she meets the obligations set forth in this section. If the physician is unavailable, he or she shall arrange for another physician to assume these responsibilities.
(c) Upon notification of an apparent death, the attending physician or designated covering physician shall proceed without inordinate delay to the location of the presumed decedent and shall make the proper determination and pronouncement of the death.
(d) Where the apparent death has occurred outside a licensed hospital and the attending or covering physician has been notified but is unable to go to the location to make the determination and pronouncement, said physician may specify another physician or may arrange with a professional nurse (R.N.) or a paramedic in accordance with 8:41-3.9, which requires the relay of findings, including telemetered electrocardiograms, if feasible to attend the presumed decedent and make the determination and pronouncement. In every such instance a written record, which may be contained within a police record, shall be prepared describing the circumstance and identifying the physician and any other person designated as above to perform the death pronouncement responsibility. Such report shall be promptly communicated orally to the attending physician for use in preparation of the death certificate. A copy of the report shall be provided to the physician as soon as practicable.
(e) Where the apparent death has occurred outside a licensed hospital and the attending or covering physician is known but cannot be reached after exercise of reasonable diligence, or no attending physician is known, then any physician, professional nurse or paramedic in accordance with 8:41-3.9 may proceed to the scene and make the determination and pronouncement of death. A written record shall be prepared as set forth in (d) above. Following pronouncement of death, the information shall be promptly communicated to the physician for preparation of the death certificate and a copy of the report provided as soon as practicable. If no attending physician is known or if an attending physician is not available to sign in a reasonable period of time, the death shall be immediately reported to the County Medical Examiner.
(f) In cases of death within the jurisdiction of the County Medical Examiner, the examiner shall without inordinate delay require the proper and established means for the determination and pronouncement of death, and shall arrange for the removal of the body and completion of the death certificate.
(g) A certificate of death shall be prepared and completed by a physician within a reasonable period of time, not to exceed 24 hours after the pronouncement of death. The factual data set forth in the certificate shall be based, to the greatest extent possible, upon the personal knowledge of the physician preparing the certificate. The physician shall provide an immediate cause of death as well as such contributing causes as the physician can best determine from the medical history obtained from other health care professionals, family or friends of the decedent, from observation of the condition of the body when pronounced and the circumstances known concerning the death. If the physician lacks sufficient information to provide an immediate cause of death, he or she may indicate an underlying potentially fatal medical condition which in the professional judgment of the physician may, or is likely to, have caused death.
(h) Pursuant to 26:8-24.1 and 8:2A-3.1, an attending or covering physician shall utilize the New Jersey Electronic Death Registration System (NJ-EDRS) to provide the information required by this section.
(i) Nothing contained in this section shall be deemed to impose an obligation upon any person not licensed by the Board of Medical Examiners to pronounce death.

N.J. Admin. Code § 13:35-6.2

Amended by R.1994 d.522, effective 10/17/1994.
See: 26 N.J.R. 2526(a), 26 N.J.R. 4195(a).
Amended by R.1995 d.412, effective 8/7/1995.
See: 27 N.J.R. 1745(a), 27 N.J.R. 2960(a).
Amended by R.2011 d.155, effective 6/6/2011.
See: 42 N.J.R. 1310(a), 43 N.J.R. 1359(b).
In definition "Attending physician" in (a), substituted "Osteopathic Medicine" for "Osteopathy", "12-month" for "six month" twice, and deleted "ongoing" preceding "medical treatment" and the second occurrence of "treatment"; in (d) and (e), updated the N.J.A.C. reference; in (e), substituted "apparent" for "probable" and "covering" for "recovering"; added new (h); and recodified former (h) as (i).