>Dear Primary Care Doctor,
My office has sent three requests for medical records on the above-named individual, and, as of today, we have yet to receive those records. Question. Did you think your response to my request was optional? Answer. State law dictates that you comply with our request. Immediately forward us this patient’s records to include a complete history and physical as well as the last three office visits. Please take care to include the complete history and physical as this is the section of the medical records that will provide a list of what this patient was diagnosed with. Merely sending us the last three office visits is problematic because, while it will provide information regarding blood pressure, heart rate, body weight and recent complaints it will not always provide enough information to ascertain a cause of death.
For example, the last time my office requested records for one your patients, you responded by sending us only the office visits. The only information provided in those office visits was that the patient, who’s death we are investigating, was treated for symptoms of carpal tunnel. Really? Did you seriously think that this information would give us a cause of death? People don’t typically die from carpal tunnel. FYI. So please remember to send us your patient’s history and physical.
A Slightly Aggravated Investigator.
When we contact you regarding the death of one of your patients and ask you to sign the death certificate the following reasons for refusing to sign the death certificate are not acceptable:
1. “This patient had too many illnesses. I can’t sign because I don’t know which one killed him.”
Nice try. That still doesn’t make it a case for the medical examiner. However, the nice thing about death certificates is that there are multiple blanks provided for listing a cause or causes of death. When in doubt, list them all.
2. “Well, yes, he was terminally ill but I can’t sign the death certificate because I don’t know why he died
Really? Are you serious? You won’t sign because even though he was terminally ill, you didn’t expect him to die today? Was there a particular day and time you expected him to die? Are you a serial killer? Do I need to send the Homicide detectives over to talk to you?
3. “I can’t sign the death certificate because I don’t know why he died.”
That concerns me. Surely, after treating this individual for the past few years, I would hope that you would have some idea as to why you prescribed him every medication known to man that’s used to treat severe heart disease. Should you be a licensed practitioner if you don’t know why you’re treating your patient for heart disease? It might be time for a career change.