PROVIDING POSTMORTEM CARE
When a patient dies in a hospital, the physician is responsible for examining the
body, declaring the patient legally dead, and notifying the next of kin. You, as the medical
specialist, are expected to perform postmortem (after death) care. When you are
providing this care, remember to conduct yourself so as to preserve the dignity and
respect of the body and family members.
PROVIDING POSTMORTEM CARE IN A HOSPITAL ENVIRONMENT
a. Obtain Special Instructions.
Ask your supervisor for any special instructions in caring for the deceased.
Consult your MTF standing operating procedure (SOP).
This step is vitally important in providing postmortem care. Each institution has
its own procedure to be exercised in the care of deceased patients. These
procedures vary because of local mortician preferences or state and local laws.
Despite the difference in procedures, many elements in caring for a deceased
patient remain essentially the same. The supervisor will give specialized
instructions in caring for the deceased patient.
b. Perform Initial Postmortem Care.
(1) Place screens around the bed, draw the curtains around the bed, or close
the door to provide privacy for the body.
Close the patient's eyelids by applying light pressure downward with the
(3) Adjust the bed to a flat position. Remove all pillows except one under the
head of the body.
Leave one pillow under the deceased person's head to prevent blood
from being pooled in the head region of the body, thus preventing
discoloration of the face.
Use gloves to inspect and wash soiled areas of the body; change patient's