Who can certify death?

Can a RN sign a certificate of death?

Unless you are a RN employed by the Office of the Chief Coroner (OCC) as a Coroner Investigator, RNs do not have the authority to sign Medical Certificates of Death (MCODs). 

As outlined in the Vital Statistics Act, RNs and NPs who have been appointed as Coroner Investigators and are employed and trained by the OCC have the authority to certify death. This authority includes completing, signing and copying MCODs, including electronic MCODs, in English and French.

NPs can also complete a MCOD in specific circumstances if:

  • the NP had primary responsibility for the deceased’s care
  • the death was expected
  • a documented medical diagnosis of a terminal disease had been made by a medical practitioner
  • there was a predictable pattern of decline, and no unexpected events or complications arose

For clarification about the differences between certifying death and pronouncing death, review the definitions by the Canadian Medical Protective Association.

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Page last reviewed June 10, 2022