Electronic Death Certificate Notification System Helps NC Identify 1,146 Additional COVID Deaths :: WRAL.com

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Electronic access to death certificate data helps the state more quickly identify and report deaths related to COVID-19, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Previously, COVID-19 deaths reported to the state came only from paper death certificates sent by doctors, hospitals or local health departments. But a new electronic reporting system helped NCDHHS identify 1,146 additional COVID-19-related deaths between Jan. 1 and March 31, the state announced Tuesday.

The additional deaths will be added to the state’s dashboard, bringing North Carolina’s pandemic death toll to more than 24,000.

According to the state, even with the increase in the total, North Carolina has the lowest per capita death rates from COVID-19 in the Southeast and ranks among the lowest in the nation.

Electronic reporting began on January 1, when the NC database application for vital events began accepting death certificate data electronically. This data will be added to the state’s reporting system data each month, the state said.

Prior to January, North Carolina was one of only two states that still used paper death certificates. The improved accuracy will eliminate the need for physical handling and transfer of paper certificates and improve processing time, which could take up to five months.

The state estimates that the time it takes to register death certificates will drop from several months to 5 to 10 days with the new electronic system.

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