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Body Bags


Specializes in Med-Surg/Oncology, Psych. Has 1 years experience.

I apologize for asking such a strange question, but I'm wondering what different facilities use for body bags or other post-mortem shrouding supplies. I recently had to pronounce time of death for the first time. My patient was very sick before she passed away, and the whole situation was very sad, but the thing that saddened me the most was the post-mortem care. I promised my patient's family that I would take good care of her, and having to put her body in the body bag (my hospital uses white zippered bags made of heavy plastic that have that new plastic shower curtain-type of smell) felt almost like breaking that promise. My patient still had her gown on as well as a clean sheet, but something about zipping a person up in that bag was so impersonal and, to me, almost disrespectful to her. Even though the essence of my patient wasn't in that body anymore, I felt really sad having to zip her body up in a bag. I understand that plastic is helpful in preventing spillage of any fluids that may leave the body after post-mortem care, and that they're probably the least costly option for the healthcare facility, but I want to know if there are other facilities out there that use something less cold and stark than white zippered body bags. I guess I'm having difficulty accepting the whole thing. Thanks,


LouisVRN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg.

Our hospital uses the same thing.


Specializes in NICU. Has 7 years experience.

The ones at my facility are black and plastic. Something about black is even worse though... white would be nicer. I know what you mean, about it being impersonal, but I have no idea what could make that better.

We only use them if the patient is infectious. Otherwise, they go to the morgue wrapped in sheets, which I think is disgusting. I would much rather place a body in a bag.

ayla2004, ASN, RN

Has 5 years experience.

We use sheets as well kinda looks like a mummy, we use bodybags for infrctiuos pt. the decreased is then transported on trolley to the mogue. however it ahsa upper weight limit so for large pt they have to go on the bed.

When I was a nursing assistant we left the body in the room until the funeral home came to get them. I guess if it was going to be a while before they got there then they'd have to go to the morgue. I didn't know the policy for that however. As a nurse we use the same white plastic bags. I just feel like even though I know they are dead that they know I am putting them in the bag. I don't like it either. One thing that really makes me nervous is that we are going to bag them, come out of the room to call security to come get the body and then a family memeber is going to show up to see them or walk in the room and see them bagged. That would really be a bad day!

tyvin, BSN, RN

Specializes in Hospice / Psych / RNAC.

Had full body shroud kits. We always prepared the body by removing all tubes and putting in the false teeth if they had. Then we would bathe them and also give the family a chance to help if they wanted.

This also enables the nurses to wrap the chin correctly before the rig sets and then cover the body with a white sheet. Patients were always left in the room until the morgue came.

diane227, LPN, RN

Specializes in Management, Emergency, Psych, Med Surg. Has 32 years experience.

It seems cruel but it is important to remember that while you are placing them into a bag you can also preserve the dignity of the deceased. As long as the body is clean that is all you can do. Remember that if the patient was a victim of trauma or died within 24 hours of admission to the hospital, you need to verify with the ME regarding what you should remove from the body. There might be other circumstances that will require you to leave lines etc in the patient for ME review. Make sure all personal items are removed from the body and assure that if the patient has false teeth that they remain in the mouth. It is also imperative to remember that decomposition of the body begins to occur directly after death and it might be important to get the body into a cool environment to delay that process. I try to get the body into the morgue within 3-4 hours at the max.

FlyingScot, RN

Specializes in Peds/Neo CCT,Flight, ER, Hem/Onc. Has 28 years experience.

I much prefer the bags. In our ER we used to only have shrouds that we tied with string. I hated that they looked like either a sausage or a trussed up turkey. Taking good care of them means treating the body respectfully and for heaven's sake make sure that they are clean, in a clean gown and clean brief. Also, if you must tie their hands together use a pair of soft restraints tied together not the tie that comes in the kit. One of my friends was horrified when she went to the funeral home only to find her husband had what looked like ligature marks on his wrists.

Flare, ASN, BSN

Specializes in school nursing, ortho, trauma.

we use the same morgue kits which also include the strings to tie up the limbs. They wouldn't let use use anything as cost inefficient ar soft restraints in place so i've found that a roll of kerlix does a better job and the managesr will usually go along with it. Unless of course you already had a set of soft restraints for that patient...

I will say this about the plastic shrouds - the scent of the plastic - which is also enoutntered when you get something new and vinyl (like a shower curtain or an inflatable toy) is something that i tend to associate with doing post care on a patient.

We leave bodies in the rooms till the funeral home comes to get them. In the event that won't happen for a lengthy amount of time (distant funeral home or organ donor) we put them in the morgue but we just pull a sheet over them, they aren't wrapped in any way.

AgentBeast, BSN, RN

Specializes in Cardiology and ER Nursing. Has 8 years experience.

As long as they don't send this guy to pick up the body bags it's all good.


What's wrong with plastic zippable body bags? Sure beats brown paper and string!

We don't even use bags. We clean the patient, place cottons balls in the anus, and put on this yellow disposable gown. We leave the patient in the room like they are sleeping with clean sheets, call the funeral home, and they cover the body with a beautiful blanket-type thing to be wheeled out. I hate that we have to put them in a disposable gown : ( I guess our place isn't so bad.

casi, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC. Has 3 years experience.

I don't mind the white bags. It took awhile for me to get used to zipping a person into a bag, but it has gotten better. What really creeps me out is one of the funeral homes that frequents the LTC I work has body bags that are made out of what look like navy blue short our door carpeting. Tacky and creepy. Throw them in a basic white body bag and cover it with a nice blanket.

BrnEyedGirl, BSN, MSN, RN, APRN

Specializes in Cardiac, ER. Has 18 years experience.

We use the white bags too. I agree with you, this seems cold and almost disrespectful to me. I will add that this gets a bit easier with time, however after 20+ years, I still don't like it.

This is one of those instances where my Christian beliefs can comfort me, I don't believe that "Mr Jones" is still there, that was just a temporary shell for him. I am very very very careful to NEVER allow family to even see this bag! I don't even bring it into the room until all family is gone and it is NEVER spoken of to any loved one. There are things we see as nurses that others shouldn't have to be aware of, IMHO.

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

what about a white plastic sheet that you wrap around the patient and then wrap string around the neck, waist and ankles to keep it in place?

putting the patient in the body bag (or sheet) has always been the worst part for me, too. they're a person until you pull that plastic over the face, and then they're just an object. at least that's always how it felt to me.

DebanamRN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Hospice, ER. Has 10 years experience.

We use the white body bags. I make sure it's done respectfully, the pt is clean, and say a little prayer for them. I find it helps me with this task.