Mortality Review Officer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a mortality review officer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training requirements, job duties and experience to find out if this is the career for you.

When a patient at a hospital or medical facility dies, mortality review officers assess the patient's history and the treatment they received to determine what factors may have contributed to the person's death. Mortality review officers must be employed as nurses, doctors or other professionals in the medical field. They need to comply with the licensing regulations of their state, and their facility may have additional training requirements they must fulfill.

Essential Information

A mortality review officer is a designation given to individuals, usually doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, who are assigned to a committee that reviews patient deaths at institutions, such as hospitals and medical research facilities. Mortality review officers study each deceased patient's case history and care to determine if any of these factors might have contributed to the death. They suggest changes to practices that may decrease mortality rates. Requirements vary, but formal medical training and experience is a must, and some committees select members according to their specialized knowledge.

Training Requirements Currently employed as a doctor, nurse or other medical staff
Other Requirements Specific education, experience and licensing requirements vary by state and facility

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Job Description for Mortality Review Officers

Mortality review officers examine the causes of patients' deaths at hospitals, medical research centers and other health-related institutions. Some institutions assign a multidisciplinary panel of officers to serve on a mortality review committee, while others use a tiered review system. These committees are typically comprised of doctors, nurses and administrative medical staff who verify if a death occurred naturally or if a facility's personnel, practices or equipment caused it.

Depending on the size of the facility, these panels may be expected to review all deaths or only those in a select group. For instance, a hospital with a high infant or mother mortality rate may have the review panel examine only those types of deaths. Also, mortality review officers with specific skills may be assigned to only focus on deaths related to their professional expertise. For example, officers working in a pharmaceutical department may only review cases where death occurred as a possible side effect of medication.

Mortality Review Officer Job Duties

Most officers start by reviewing a patient's medical chart. They check the nurses' notes concerning what medications were given, how often the patient was treated and how the patient felt during their visit. The doctor's notes and any other comments are reviewed to check for a continuous level of care. Officers will then review the patient's medical history for the past year or so to check on previous conditions, medications and other issues. From this research, officers decide whether the cause of death was related to care.

Requirements for Mortality Review Officers

Each mortality review committee must meet requirements set by facility management and, in some cases, by the state. All members involved are usually selected to serve on the panel because they have the appropriate education, experience and licensing to participate as officers. To remain unbiased, several states and medical facilities require that mortality review officers not be connected to deceased patients who are under this review.

Mortality review officers are medical professionals who assess the factors that may have contributed to a patient's death. They complete reports and make recommendations to improve care and procedures when their review suggests these changes can help reduce further patient deaths. They must be currently employed as a doctor, nurse or other medical professional and meet the facility and state requirements to be a mortality review officer.

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