BPerform 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.

(2) Close the patient's eyelids by applying light pressure downward with the fingertips.

(3) Adjust the bed to a flat position. Remove all pillows except one under the head of the body.

CAUTION: 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.

(4) Use gloves to inspect and wash soiled areas of the body; change patient's gown.

(5) Align body in natural anatomical position with body on back, arms alongside, and palms turned toward thighs--poor alignment may cause irregular body formations.

NOTE: The body should be placed in alignment and in as natural position as possible. Poor alignment will result in deformities as a result of rigor mortis (profound stiffening of limbs and body as a result of death).

(6) Replace soiled bed linen and straighten top linen.

(7) Remove, clean, and replace dentures, comb hair, close or support patient's mouth, if applicable.

NOTE: The mouth may need to be closed or supported by using rolled ABD pads to prevent the lower jaw from sagging.

(8) Clean patient's area and remove all unnecessary equipment.

NOTE: Viewing of the body by relatives is done at this time, if desired. Be supportive and compassionate.

(9) Perform a patient care handwash.

c. Perform Final Postmortem Care. This care begins after the viewing of the body. It is done in preparation to transfer the body to the morgue.

(1) Obtain equipment.

(a) Obtain prepared death pack. The death pack, which may vary from one hospital to another, includes wrapping or mortuary sheet, absorbent cotton or some type of underpads, gauze or bandage rolls (ties), safety pins, death tags, and various forms (hospital report of death, authorization for autopsy, disposition of body, local forms, state death worksheet, and form for organ donor).

(b) Obtain additional needed equipment and supplies such as clean sheets, chux, basin of warm water and soap, clean gloves, paper bag, acetone, stretcher, two litter straps, laundry hamper/bag, comb, washcloth, and towel.

(2) Provide privacy for the body by placing screens around the bed, draw curtains around the bed, or close the door.

(3) Don clean gloves (if applicable).

(4) Remove the following items:

(a) Top bedding except for a drape sheet.

(b) Pajamas/gown.

(c) Jewelry and personal articles (get-well cards, eyeglasses, religious articles, and so forth). Return these items to the family in the presence of a witness.

CAUTION: Never leave valuable articles unattended.

(d) Remove soiled dressings and discard them in the contaminated wastes.

(5) Tie off, remove, or clamp all drains and tubes as directed by supervisor. Tubes are generally left in body for an autopsy.

(6) Wash body and remove adhesive markings from the skin (if applicable) with solvent (acetone) as prescribed in the SOP.

(7) Apply new dressings over wounds. Use a minimum amount of tape and dressings.

(8) Pad anal and urinary areas with perineal pad or abdominal pad IAW local SOP. The perineal pad is placed to absorb feces and urine that are expelled as the sphincters relax and to absorb drainage.

(9) Remove gloves.

(10) Secure ankles and wrists.

(a) Cross right ankle over left ankle, place ABD pad between ankles and secure with gauze roller bandage or according to local SOP.

(b) Cross right wrist over left wrist, place ABD pad between wrists, and secure with gauze roller bandage or IAW local SOP.

(11) Attach two body tags, DA Form 3910 (Death Tag), to the body.

(a) Obtain three completed and signed death tags from supervisor.

(b) Tie death (body) tag to right great toe.

CAUTION: Do not tie the tags so tight as to cause severe skin discoloration.

(a) With assistance, roll the body to the side of the bed.

(b) Place one clean sheet diagonally under the body.

(c) Roll body back to the center of the sheet.

(d) Fold the upper corner of the sheet loosely over the head and face. Fold the lower corner over the feet.

(e) Fold the right and left corners over the body.

(f) Fasten the sheet corners with a safety pin.

(13) Attach signed exterior body tag (third tag) to outside of sheet near anterior portion of head or upper torso of body.

(14) Transfer the body to wheeled litter (stretcher).

(a) With assistance, lift the wrapped body onto the stretcher.

(b) Secure the body to the stretcher with straps at the chest and just above the knees.

(c) Cover the wrapped body with a clean sheet. CAUTION: Avoid using any pressure that will cause discoloration of the skin.

(15) Prepare for transfer of body to morgue.

(a) Obtain from supervisor all records and forms for accompanying body to morgue.

(b) Notify morgue or appropriate supervisory personnel IAW local SOP that body is ready for transfer to morgue and transport IAW local SOP.

(16) Perform a patient care handwash.

d. Clean the Deceased Patient's Area. Give the patient's area a terminal cleaning. Follow the principles of medical asepsis and local SOP.

e. Report the Procedure. Report completion of postmortem care to your supervisor.

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