ASN Supports CDC Initiative to Develop Electronic Death Certificate

Recognizing the value to a comprehensive, detailed electronic database regarding all causes of death nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently initiated development of an electronic death certificate that will eventually be used nationwide. The CDC is currently pilot testing the program.

Acknowledging the role of kidney disease in many deaths every year, the CDC asked ASN to help in their effort during ASN Kidney Week 2011. More than 30 members of ASN advisory groups volunteered their time at Kidney Week to participate in a one-on-one interview with the CDC to test the program, whose working title is “TurboDeath.”


The goal of TurboDeath is to develop a “next generation” collection method for mortality records. The current Electronic Death Registration System model (which essentially reproduces the paper death certificate form in electronic media) would be replaced with an interview style format modeled on the popular “TurboTax” program. By allowing form completers to focus exclusively on providing accurate medical knowledge information, rather than on boxes and placement in a form, TurboDeath’s objective is to improve the quality and accuracy of the collected information. In conjunction with modern applications and tools such as tablets, it is hoped that the product will reduce the effort and time required for delivering quality medical mortality information.

“A nationwide electronic death certificate would significantly increase the accuracy and comprehensiveness of mortality data, with enormous benefit from a research perspective,” said Public Policy Board Chair Thomas H. Hostetter, MD. “I am gratified that ASN is a strong contributor to the development of this important public health initiative.”

“I would like to thank you and ASN for the opportunity you provided us to demonstrate Turbo-Death to your members,” said Charles Sirc, MD, chief of the CDC Mortality Medical Classification Branch. “The physicians who took the time to come to the demonstration were extremely generous with their time and provided excellent comments and suggestions.It was an extremely successful demonstration.”