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 medical care practitioner 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 person who delivered
the baby. In most hospitals, someone from the medical records department
obtains the necessary information from family members and prepares the
certificate. The attending medical care practitioner 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 medical care practitioner 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 medical care practitioner’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
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.
This can be a problem it 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.