HUNDREDS of death certificates have been filled out incorrectly by blundering officials.
Mistakes include inaccurate causes of death, errors in the sequences of events leading up to a death, the wrong death date or even wrong names.
Doctors – who are in charge of issuing the certificates – have even failed to provide their own name in some cases.
The shock findings were revealed ahead of a new certificate checking programme due to come into force in April next year.
But critics warned that unless doctors are properly “educated” in how to fill out forms then families face agonising delays in burying or cremating their loved ones.
The incorrect certificates were unveiled during a pilot scheme in Dundee where around one in 16 had mistakes.
A total of 574 certificates were chosen at random by medical reviewers – 505 were given a basic check that included talking with the issuing doctor.
The remaining 69 were given a more thorough analysis that involved checking the deceased’s medical records.
In total there were 36 certificates incorrectly filled out with several containing omissions or completely wrong information.
These included the cause of death being too vague, details being either omitted or recorded when they shouldn’t have been or the circumstances leading up to the death being incomplete, wrong or failing to make sense.
Other errors included the wrong time and date of deaths, incorrect location of the death and doctors failing to add their own qualifications in the appropriate section.
A new national independent medical review of death certificates will be launched next year in order to combat the falling standards.
A spokesman for the British Medical Journal said: “The new death certification system is designed to help improve the accuracy of death certification.
“The new system has a high level of scrutiny – it is much more likely that potential inaccuracies will now be identified and corrected.”
The Scottish Government said in a recent report that it is important doctors and funeral directors warn families of potential mistakes in Medical Cause of Death Certificates (MCCDs).
This is because delays in completing forms correctly can result in funerals being postponed.
The report stated: “The vast majority of reviews found MCCDs to be in order but there are some examples where reviews highlighted areas that doctors may require some guidance on.
“The benefits identified through the test site process are that it provides a good opportunity to support and educate doctors about the importance of completing death certificates accurately.”