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Birth Certificates

Normally the law requires that the person who attended the birth or delivered the baby must file a birth certificate within a specified time of a few days. Although the physician is responsible for the accuracy of the medical information and the timely filing, most states allow the certificate to be completed and certified by someone other than the attending physician. In most hospitals, someone from the medical records department obtains the necessary information from family members and prepares the certificate. This medical information is useful for public health. The attending physician should ensure that it is completed fully and accurately.

Birth certificates also contain social information, such as the name of the baby's father. This should be completed accurately if the information is known, but the physician is allowed to rely on the family for the necessary information. There may be doubts about the accuracy of information such as parentage or citizenship, but this is not the physician's concern; there is no duty to investigate social information. On many certificates the source of this information is listed, and this person may be asked to sign the certificate.

It is important that the birth attendant file the birth certificate promptly. The certificate must be filed before a certified copy can be issued. The child cannot get a social security number without the certified copy of the birth certificate. If the family receives any type of public assistance, federally funded assistance programs limit the amount of time that a child may be carried on the program without a social security number and case file.

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