Assisted living communities and nursing homes no longer would have the authority to sign resident death certificates under a bill introduced in the Georgia General Assembly. Instead, long-term care facilities would be required to notify their county coroner’s office of each death, in case the office wanted to conduct an investigation.

That’s according to the Augusta Chronicle, which reports that passage of House Bill 262 would reverse a 1996 law.

“[T]hat law has a flaw — it allows people to sign death certificates who can’t and don’t always correctly determine how a person died,” the Chronicle’s editorial staff said in an opinion piece. “It also makes it more difficult to discover and prove that someone might have died of abuse or neglect.” Or to exonerate someone in a resident’s death, the state long-term care ombudsman said.

Devon Barill, communications director for the Georgia Health Care Association / Georgia Center for Assisted Living, said the organization “has had substantive conversations with the [Georgia Bureau of Investigation] and Georgia Coroners Association regarding reporting requirements and how they may be further defined and clarified.

“We will continue to remain engaged with all parties on this issue,” she added.

The president of the Georgia Coroners Association told the media outlet that he and many coroners in the state support the bill, even though its passage would mean increased workloads for them.