The Vital Events Registry is a statewide data system responsible for collecting information on all deaths that occur in Pennsylvania. The Vital Events Registry is part of the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program (VSCP) administered by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Through this program, the CDC provides funding for states, such as Pennsylvania, to ensure the death data is as complete, timely and accurate as possible.
All deaths occurring in Pennsylvania are required to be reported to the Department of Health by the Vital Statistics Law of 1953. Deaths must be reported within 96 hours of the event. Every year, over 125,000 deaths occur in Pennsylvania. Since 1906, over 12 million deaths have been reported in Pennsylvania. Nearly 75% of deaths occur in hospitals and nursing homes every year.
The registration of deaths encompasses the Division of Vital Records, Division of Statistical Registries, Division of Statistical Support, over 200 local registrars, approximately 1,700 funeral homes, 67 medical examiners/coroners plus their deputies, 270 hospitals, 815 long term care facilities, and approximately 22,000 physicians. The filing of the death certificate is the responsibility of the funeral director or person acting as such, however others share the responsibility for the completion of the death certificate. If the death occurred at a hospital or nursing home, staff at the facility work with the physician/coroner along with the funeral director to complete the certificate of death.
The type of data collected includes demographics (age, gender, where they live, etc.) and medical information about the decedent. The Department also collects death data through data exchange with other states when Pennsylvania residents die in other states.