FOX59 Investigates: Governor looking into death certificate concerns

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INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana Governor Mike Pence is asking questions after a FOX59 investigation revealed the state may have a problem with some physicians dodging their duty to sign death certificates.

FOX59 found families, funeral homes, even coroners complaining that some Indiana doctors are simply refusing to sign the certificates in certain cases, citing various reasons like not knowing much about the patient's medical history.

It's putting a strain on people's emotions and finances and creating a burden for some county coroners who wind up on the receiving end of those unwanted cases.

Families are able to report these complaints to the State Department of Health or the Medical Licensing Board, but often times don't know they have that opportunity.

"I intend to make some inquiries with the Indiana State Department of Health about the nature of oversight that we have today, the obligations of physicians, and whether or not we see the trend lines that you've observed."

The Chair of the State's Health and Provider Services Committee is also looking into the complaints.

"I'm very sorry for the families that have been caught in this situation," said State Sen. Patricia Miller(R-Indianapolis). "Even one situation where a family has to deal with not being able to get a death certificate is one case too many."

Miller believes the issue mostly surrounds ER doctors who may not know anything about the decedent's medical history.

She is looking for a solution.

"I can tell you I'm talking to all the right people. The medical community, the Department of Health. I've talked to morticians and people involved. I'm going to try to drill down and come to a solution to resolve this problem."

The Indiana State Medical Association sent FOX59 a statement which reads in part:

"The ISMA continually offers our member physicians education on all issues of importance to the patients they care for. We are sensitive to timely reporting for families and their loved ones as well as providing important data to improve the health of Hoosiers."

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