WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Thurman Higginbotham, CFSP– president of the Independent Funeral Directors Association of DC– has concluded that funeral directors have no legal authority or responsibility to facilitate the death pronouncement process when requested by families to handle the remains of their loved ones that expire in their residences. The problem now is that the DC Board of Funeral Directors has been unwilling to act on this knowledge, leaving the capital's funeral directors in an impossible position.
"Shopping and compensating a physician to pronounce should not be the responsibility of the funeral director," says Dr. Hari P. Close, II, CFSP, past president of the State Board of Morticians and Funeral Directors of Maryland. "It does not surprise me the medical community supports this practice. Alarmingly, this seems to be a clear violation of the FTC's Funeral Rule for the consumer. This is a service that should be on the general price list (GPL) of ALL establishments in this jurisdiction."
Carlton C. Douglass, past president of the National Funeral Directors & Morticians Association and current president of the Funeral Directors & Morticians Association of Maryland agrees with Dr. Close and adds in his 43 years of funeral service he is not aware of any jurisdiction in the United States where funeral directors are responsible for facilitating death pronouncement.
In the course of assisting an association member in 2013, facing a serious matter concerning a death certificate created from a residence removal, Higginbotham began by carefully reviewing the current license laws and death certificate procedures. It also reminded him of an incident that occurred when he removed an individual from a residence on emergency medical authority in years past and proceeded to a local hospital for pronouncement, then learned the individual was not deceased and was admitted to the hospital
"Discovering that our license laws have no requirement for funeral directors to facilitate having remains pronounced in DC, I dug deeper," explains Higginbotham. "Months of conversation, emails and painstaking research, I found that the DC Inspector General had conducted an inspection of the DC Medical Examiner's office in 2002. That inspection identified a need to develop a death pronouncement policy; a re-inspection five years later concluded no action had been taken to develop the policy. Based on the Inspector General report and the review of the license laws it was concluded that funeral directors in DC have no legal authority or responsibility to facilitate pronouncing remains."
Once the DC Board of Funeral Directors was advised of Higginbotham's findings, in 2013 it should have formulated specific guidelines for us to follow while performing this service. The board's mission is to "regulate licensed funeral directors and funeral home establishments ... to protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens in the District of Columbia by upholding the District of Columbia Funeral Directors laws and regulations."
Contact was made with the Federal Trade Commission, DC Mayor's Office, DC Attorney General and the DC IG – receiving no response. Unfortunately – and mysteriously – the DC Board of Funeral Directors essentially agrees, but will not issue anything in writing.
Working together with Higginbotham has been Billie Watson Hughes, CFSP, president of the DC Funeral Directors Association, and Daniel Harrison, past president of the Alpha Delta Chapter of the Epsilon Nu Delta Mortuary Fraternity. Dr. Roger Mitchell, is working toward compliance with the Inspector General's findings and ensuring funeral directors are excluded going forward.
Thurman Higginbotham, CFSP, President
Independent Funeral Directors Association of DC
To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/district-of-columbia-funeral-directors-outraged-by-illegal-requirement-to-facilitate-the-pronouncement-of-death-300215332.html
SOURCE Independent Funeral Directors Association of DC