The role of a nurse extends beyond a patient’s death to provision of care immediately after death and before the resident’s transfer to the mortuary. The offered care at this time is referred to as postmortem care and includes care on the dead body and assistance to family…
Further, the involved nurse may be expected to contact the next of kin and seek permission for possible actions such as undertaking an autopsy and even donation of organs if such cases are involved in the will of the dead. The postmortem care involves three major elements, assessment, diagnosis, and planning. The assessment phase of the activity involves confirmation of the death, evaluation of the family’s emotional condition, and consultation with the family regarding autopsy and organ donation. The initial stage of the care is the verification that the heart and the lungs have stopped functioning and that the involved physician has pronounced the person dead. The nurse then evaluates emotional status of the bereaved family to offer necessary support. Diagnosis that may identify anxiety and insufficient knowledge among the family follows before contact with the next of kin and the actual care process.
My team performed a postmortem care at Rose hospital in Lindsay, Ontario. It was my first time to participate in the activity and I did not know the patient, neither had I attended to him before his death. Our instructor led us into the room after the family had left and she talked to us in a low voice, probably to ensure that nobody heard us because it was a training exercise and not a professional practice. The activity involved the instructor, four other students, and I. I was the team leader and led the team as we performed postmortem care on the body by removing all the tubes such as the urine and IV catheters. We then cleaned the body and put the identification tag on it. We left the gown on to ensure respect for the body, bagged it, and transferred it to the morgue. I felt sad at watching the dead body but the experience did not have significant emotional effect on me and I treated the body in a similar way that I would to a patient.
A major issue in the post mortem care is ethical ...
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