Changes to EDRS “Pending” Cause of Death

“Attention all Medical Providers, especially those certifying Coroner-created records, who are NYS EDRS users


In an effort to improve data quality and reduce cases registered with “pending” Cause of Death, the NYS Bureau of Vital Records is requesting all medical providers:

  • Review and update the EDRS Cause of Death page, especially when receiving a non-affiliated medical certification request. The Cause of Death page passes validation if the coroner entered a “pending” cause of death. This entry does not represent the etiology that should be filed for the death event unless truly waiting for toxicology or test results. As the patient provider, many times the record requires your entry of patient medical history and etiology of a death.
  • Submit Corrections for any known registered cases with pending cause of death as soon as a determination is made. All 2019 and 2020 Death Certificates pending death cases should be updated by March 31, 2021

New York State Department of Health has added a new validation (edit) rule to the EDRS Cause of Death page, triggered by the term “Pending” in Part I, Line A.

  • If the Cause of Death is left blank by the coroner sending you a non-affiliated request, the page will not pass validation. Complete the accurate etiology before certifying the record.
  • If the coroner entered “pending” in the Part I, Line A descriptor, the new validation rule was probably overridden and the Cause of Death page and will have a yellow dot when you validate the case. Remove the override (uncheck the Override checkbox and click Save Overrides) and enter the correct etiology of the death event.

NOTE: Implementation of this new edit rule will impact active, unregistered cases. This new EDRS validation rule takes effect late Tuesday, March 2.


As of February 2021, NYS has over 1,305 death certificates from 2020 still pending cause of death determination. Mortality data is a primary source of information for identifying and monitoring chronic diseases and other public health surveillance. The quality of the cause-of-death information on mortality records has long been a topic of national concern.

Although many situations warrant registration with a “pending” cause of death, due to toxicology testing, microscopic examination, and microbiological testing, to ensure timely registration, there is evidence that cases are also being filed this way because the page was completed and validated by the Coroner and overlooked by the non-affiliated medical provider. If the medical certifier does not review this page, and the case was already Coroner Certified, the unjustified pending cause of death remains on the case. This increases unnecessary amended records and incomplete mortality data.

Immediate attention to the above is much appreciated.

Thank you,

The EDRS Team| New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Records| EDRS Website:

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