Can a nursing home refuse to sign the death certificate? In most states, it is common for an attending physician to sign the death certificate. Unless the physician who attended to your loved one during their final days works for the nursing home, you should not have trouble obtaining a signature on your loved one’s death certificate.
There are several common issues that family experience after their loved one passes away in a nursing home.
Know the Law Around Death Certificates
If you suspect wrongdoing for any reason by the nursing home where your loved one was living when they passed away, then you may have grounds for legal action. It is important that you know the laws in your state pertaining to documenting death and death certificates so that you can act as an advocate after your loved one’s death.
The Attending Physician Must Sign the Death Certificate Promptly
Physicians are typically independent of nursing homes. Refusal to sign a death certificate will typically be an issue to take up with the physician independent of the nursing home. There are exceptions, however.
If your loved one lived in an acute care facility or another location where physicians are employed by the home and you experienced the nursing home refusing to sign the death certificate, then you may need to take legal action against the home. If the physician refuses to sign a death certificate for any reason, their actions could be an offense.
There Is No Excuse for Refusing to Sign A Death Certificate
Some common reasons why a physician may refuse to sign a death certificate include:
- Uncertainty as to the cause of death
- Not having administered care to the deceased for quite some time
- Disagreeing with the conclusion of other medical parties
None of these reasons or any others are legal justifications for refusing to sign a death certificate. When a physician delays the signing of a death certificate, the family of the deceased are often the ones who suffer.
Refusal to Sign A Death Certificate Has Real Consequences
Whether the person refusing to sign your loved one’s death certificate works independently of a nursing home or for the facility where your loved one was living when they died, the consequences of refusing to sign are equally great. Some of the direct effects include:
- Delayed funeral arrangements, which may not be able to proceed without a valid, complete death certificate
- Delayed estate proceedings
- Direct litigation costs to the family because they are forced to take legal action to obtain a physician’s signature
These are just the visible effects of a refusal to sign a death certificate. On top of these, a family may experience more trauma and an interrupted grieving process due to the additional trouble of a physician refusing to sign their loved one’s death certificate.
If your family is facing a physician or institution that refuses to sign your loved one’s death certificate, you may have grounds not only to bring criminal charges, but a civil case as well.
Refusing to Sign a Death Certificate is a Criminal Act
If an attending physician has refused to sign your loved one’s death certificate, contact law enforcement.
After filing charges, you should consider how a lawyer can help you obtain the signature promptly, and how they could help you pursue financial awards.
How a Lawyer Can Help You Obtain a Signature and Pursue Compensation
A lawyer can help put an end to ongoing trauma your family is enduring because of a physician’s refusal to sign a death certificate. A lawyer can:
- Meet with your family to discuss your case
- File a case after meeting to ensure that your case follows all relevant statutes of limitation
- Notify relevant parties or people, including the attending physician and the institution that they work for (including a nursing home, if applicable)
- Handling all legal responsibilities until a conclusion to your case is reached
- Ensuring the protection of your family’s rights
It is important that you call a lawyer as soon as you suspect that the refusal to sign your loved one’s death certificate could be a prolonged ordeal. This can help improve your odds of a speedy resolution.
Call Our Team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm Today
Our team will aim to make sure that your family is not put through any further harm by a physician’s refusal to sign your loved one’s death certificate. Call us today at (800) 842-6336 to discuss your case.
Our clients pay nothing upfront, nothing out of pocket, and we only collect a fee if we secure a judgement or settlement.