CFDA representatives and Colorado funeral directors attended a stakeholders meeting with Karen McGovern, new program director for DORA's Office of Funeral Establishment and Crematory Registration, and other DORA staff on September 29 to discuss proposed definitions and rules pertaining to positive identification and custody according to the Mortuary Science Code. Stakeholder input is crucial to achieving DORA's mission of consumer protection and effective licensure and enforcement, without unnecessary impediment to the economic market.
Representing CFDA, Chuck Bowman and Steffani Blackstock explained practical applications for determining positive identification and documenting chain of custody, including scenarios in which a party is unwilling to sign a release to confirm identity or transfer custody.
Also discussed was what constitutes the end of the chain of custody, thereby ending responsibility by the funeral home or crematory.
The law states that the funeral establishment/crematory is responsible for tracking human remains from the time it takes custody until (a) final disposition has occurred or remains are returned to the person who has the right of final disposition; or (b) human remains are released in accordance with the instructions given by the person who has the right of final disposition. By definition, "final disposition" includes entombment, burial, cremation or removal from the state. Burial, entombment and removal from the state are more divisive in establishing the termination of custody and responsibility; the end of a responsibility for cremation cases was unclear.
Recommendation was offered that a specific date be confirmed when making cremation arrangements in which the authorized next of kin must claim the cremated remains, and that retrieval date concludes responsibility for those remains on the part of the funeral home/crematory.
Changes to the proposed rules will be presented to the Director for approval and a rulemaking hearing is expected to take place in early November.