Oklahoma Chief Medical Examiner Discusses How COVID-19 Deaths Are Certified

Tuesday, July 13th 2021, 4:46 pm
By: Erica Rankin

Tuesday, the Oklahoma State Chief Medical Examiner talked about how his office has been involved in certifying COVID-19 deaths.

According to the CDC, there at 7,411 deaths in Oklahoma that have been attributed to COVID-19.

Each of those deaths must be certified, which has been done by many of the physicians on the front line who are with the patient when they die.

Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Eric Pfeifer, said their office has been called on thousands of times to rule on deaths during the pandemic.

“To give you background, our agency that is a small agency charged under state statute to investigate certain deaths,” said Pfeifer.

Pfeifer said there are certain circumstances a person has to die under in order for them to be brought to their office.

“The most common way is when someone dies in the hospital with a diagnosis of COVID-19 and subsequently the family chooses to cremate or do out of state transport,” said Pfeifer.

A patient could also go to them if they were to die unattended. But, unlike the state department of health the ME’s office is not able to rule a death as COVID-19 if that person who died doesn’t have a positive test associated with them.

Right now, Pfeifer said things have slowed down on the COVID front but believe that things could pick back up with cases rising.