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I Gotta See If He Is Dead!

Nurses Article   (12,920 Views 20 Replies 1,269 Words)
by spotangel spotangel, MSN, RN (Member) Member Writer Expert Nurse

spotangel is a MSN, RN and specializes in ED,Tele,Med surg, ADN,outpatient,homecare,LTC,Peds.

26 Articles; 33,574 Profile Views; 251 Posts

Family request for a morgue visit, pt had four siblings with learning issues and psychiatric issues. Body in the morgue for 5 days. Major family issues in the lobby, cops called. You are reading page 2 of I Gotta See If He Is Dead!. If you want to start from the beginning Go to First Page.

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Really?! your trying to find fault? God Bless spotangel as a psych nurse of 29 years her handling of the situation was "Spot on"

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calivianya is a BSN, RN and specializes in ICU.

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For those of you talking about visitors in the morgue...

I work in a 900+ bed hospital and neither one of the morgues can hold more than five bodies... it's sad how pitifully small they are, especially for a hospital of this size. Both morgues themselves are maybe 7 feet by 7 feet, tops, and the morgue anteroom in the main morgue is maybe 8 by 10 feet (the ED morgue has no anteroom), with no furniture of any sort, no railings, and solid tile floors and walls. There's nothing to catch visitors if they fall, and if they do fall, they're going to hurt themselves.

Maybe some of you guys have morgues that are more visitor friendly, but there is absolutely no way visitors could fit in our morgue, just for space and safety reasons alone. Not to mention the morgue is secured by public safety and they have to stay for the whole duration of the time the morgue is unlocked, so it would tie up a public safety officer for the whole time a family was down there. We need our public safety officers to be doing public safety things, personally, and not babysitting patient family members. We don't have very many of them on at a time as it is.

We had a situation once where the patient died in the OR and all of the periop areas were full, so the declared dead body was brought to an empty ICU room so the family could visit. We had several empties that day, so it wasn't a big deal. The morgue was definitely out of the question, for all of the reasons mentioned earlier.

It's honestly kind of hard to imagine the type of morgue a family member would be safe to walk into, for me...

Spotangel, you did a great thing. :yes:

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marie.rn2419 is a RN and specializes in ICU.

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Why would people need "special circumstances" to see the body of a loved one?

I was thinking the same thing. Also, out of curiosity, because this situation involved a patient brought in to the ER deceased, did someone positively identify the body? If so, why was the body held there for 5 days?

I can understand the family wanting to verify that this is in fact their loved one that is deceased... Not exactly a special circumstance. Sounds like your team handled this well, though.

Edit: I hadn't seen OP's further statement that they were "pretty confident" that this was the right patient based on an ID being at the scene that matched the address... I'd feel uneasy officially confirming the death of "Ron Smith" because the medics picked up a dead white male in his 50s from the address of a white male in his 50s, with no further 3rd party identification. Just my opinion.

Edited by marie.rn2419
added...

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spotangel is a MSN, RN and specializes in ED,Tele,Med surg, ADN,outpatient,homecare,LTC,Peds.

26 Articles; 251 Posts; 33,574 Profile Views

Opinion appreciated! The patient had called 911 and complained of chest pain and he had identified himself. While EMS was at his house treating him, he had a massive MI. ACLS protocol was followed and he was brought to the ER, CPR in progress. So yes, we were confident of the patient's identity. He had called from his cellphone and the phone was on him when he came in along with his backpack. His home phone number on our EMR was a number that was disconnected and there was no other emergency contact as he took care of his younger sibling who was mentally challenged.The younger sibling was in adult camp and was not at home.The body was held in the morgue as no one had claimed the body.PD was aware but there was no one at home to notify. Finally the sister who lived somewhere else initiated the search when he went missing.

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spotangel is a MSN, RN and specializes in ED,Tele,Med surg, ADN,outpatient,homecare,LTC,Peds.

26 Articles; 251 Posts; 33,574 Profile Views

Thanks! First do no harm---!

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spotangel is a MSN, RN and specializes in ED,Tele,Med surg, ADN,outpatient,homecare,LTC,Peds.

26 Articles; 251 Posts; 33,574 Profile Views

5 visitors were not allowed, only 2; the sister who held it together throughout out the day and the brother Marcus who insisted that" he gotta see his brother and make sure that he was dead!" Two of our burly officers accompanied us to the morgue and the family stayed probably 5 minutes . One of the officers built a rapport with Marcus and comforted him and gently lead him out after the viewing.After that ,we sat in the lobby(while my pager was going off like crazy from the rest of the hosp units I was covering!) and watched a phone video of Ron while both of them laughed, cried and talked about him!They kept lingering and I was gentle but firm and told them them that they needed to go home and rest. I also gave them the protocol of what to do next in terms of getting him into a funeral home.It was a long day for all of us!

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marie.rn2419 is a RN and specializes in ICU.

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Opinion appreciated! The patient had called 911 and complained of chest pain and he had identified himself. While EMS was at his house treating him, he had a massive MI. ACLS protocol was followed and he was brought to the ER, CPR in progress. So yes, we were confident of the patient's identity. He had called from his cellphone and the phone was on him when he came in along with his backpack. His home phone number on our EMR was a number that was disconnected and there was no other emergency contact as he took care of his younger sibling who was mentally challenged.The younger sibling was in adult camp and was not at home.The body was held in the morgue as no one had claimed the body.PD was aware but there was no one at home to notify. Finally the sister who lived somewhere else initiated the search when he went missing.

It sounds like a complicated situation that you guys did the best you could with!

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klcrn1987 has 30 years experience and specializes in med/surg---long term---pvt duty.

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I'm not sure in this case but you also have to think of the condition of the body... sometimes it's not "wise" to have family members see the body in the morgue before they can be prepared by a funeral director..

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spotangel is a MSN, RN and specializes in ED,Tele,Med surg, ADN,outpatient,homecare,LTC,Peds.

26 Articles; 251 Posts; 33,574 Profile Views

That is always in the back of your mind. In this case there was pooling body fluids. So I literally mopped up the body before we transferred him to the stretcher. Not pleasant at all. Need a tough stomach and a tougher mind!

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