Registration is required by law because accurate and complete legal records are essential in determining legal status and rights, including inheritance, citizenship, and paternity.
Anyone contacting our office with information or responding to our request for information in good faith is protected from liability under ORS 432.075.
ORS 432.075 Duty to report information to state registrar; immunity.
(1) A person having knowledge of the facts shall furnish all information the person may possess regarding a live birth, death, fetal death, induced termination of pregnancy, marriage, declaration of domestic partnership or dissolution of marriage or domestic partnership upon demand of the State Registrar of the Center for Health Statistics.
(2) A person required to report information under this chapter or the rules adopted under this chapter shall provide the information to the state registrar within five calendar days of receiving the information.
(3) Within five calendar days of receipt of autopsy results or other information that would provide pending or missing information or correct errors in a reported cause of death, the medical certifier or medical examiner required to report the death under ORS 432.133 shall submit an affidavit on the cause of death to amend the record.
(4) A person or institution that in good faith provides information required by this chapter or by rules adopted under this chapter shall not be subject to an action for civil damages.
(5) The state registrar may require alternative documentation from the provider of information relating to the occurrence of a vital event for the purpose of quality assurance. [1983 c.709 §23; 1997 c.783 §6; 2013 c.366 §8]
What do we do with the information?
At the individual level, vital records are used to legally establish identity (births) and relationships (birth, marriage, divorce, and death) for personal or property interests.
Records registered with the Center for Health Statistics are confidential by law. For deaths, marriages, and divorces, the records are confidential for 50 years after the event occurred. For births, the records are confidential for 100 years after the event occurred. By far, our most frequent customers are the individual who is the subject of the record or their parents.
Confidential means the records are released only to those people who have demonstrated a legal right to the information under ORS 432.350. Each request for vital records is screened for eligibility before the certified copy is produced. If the individual doesn’t have a right to the information under the law, their request is refused.
When a certified copy is created of a marriage or divorce record, the statistical sections are also not released. The statistical section of the birth certificate that contains demographic (education, race, ethnicity, etc.) and medical information is not released with the individual record. The protection of this information is so strong that it is not released even if a court issues a subpoena. Very rarely, the information may be released for public health research; this only occurs after a rigorous review of the purpose and procedures of the research and, if approved, the agreement that the information will be used for the approved purpose only.
Death records are also confidential. However, because of the greater need in establishing and closing legal interests in property, including real property, bank accounts, and insurance policies, a greater variety of people may be eligible to obtain the death record. One of the ways CHS works to keep the personal information as confidential as possible is the availability and required uses of the "short form". This form of the death certificate does not include the cause of death information and consequentially has more room available for recording stamps, etc. when used to transfer property.
Vital records also play a very important public health role. Birth and death records are primary data sources for health information on Oregonians, including:
- Birth weight of newborns – low or high birth weight is an indicator of current and future health needs for Oregon’s children.
- Access to prenatal care – access varies by geographic region and demographic group.
- Leading causes of death – alert practitioners and researchers to common health needs in Oregon.
CHS is responsible for compiling and analyzing these data, which are used throughout the state and nation for program planning and policy development, as well as being primary data sources used for measuring many Oregon Benchmarks, Oregon Health Authority Outcomes and Performance Measures, and Healthy People 2020 Objectives. One product of this analysis is our Annual Report. Volume One covers births, induced terminations of pregnancy, and teen pregnancy. Volume Two covers mortality, infant mortality, fetal demise, and adolescent suicide attempts.