When a patient dies, their post-mortem care begins. Hospital and government morgues follow deceased-patient protocols to preserve the dignity of the deceased, ensure the safety of workers, and prevent incidents of missing or mishandled decedent patients.

Though rare, cases of missing bodies or stolen remains do occur, causing an added layer of anxiety and grief for family members. As well, such events can be embarrassing and costly for the facilities entrusted with the decedent’s care. A Seattle Weekly article reported on the incident of the possible theft or misplacement of the body of newborn Baby Perry from the King County Medical Examiner’s Office. The exact circumstances have never been determined, nor has the body been found. In the case of a San Antonio woman’s stolen remains from the Mission Park Funeral Home, the deceased woman’s family successfully sued the funeral home for $8 million.

An RTLS (real-time location system) provides a decedent management and morgue security solution that helps organizations track, document, transport and monitor deceased patients. Upon arrival at the facility, RFID tags are attached to the deceased, and they are logged within the software platform, which allows users to accurately identify and locate the deceased patient in real-time.

Building a better security system

The RTLS system increases security by reducing the chance of human error and expensive lawsuits if decedents are misplaced or managed incorrectly. If a deceased patient is moved unexpectedly, the RTLS system releases an alert. This decreases the likelihood of transport errors, such as in cases where a mistaken funeral home transfer has caused the wrong decedent to be cremated.

In the event of the intentional, unauthorized removal of decedent patients, tags are equipped with tamper detectors, and automated door control prevents removal of the deceased from the facilities. The GuardRFID solution can be tailored to your facility, with close-range portal detection and floor discrimination as well as building-wide RTLS.

Increasing personnel safety

In addition to safeguarding the dignity of the deceased, an RTLS system provides a more secure work environment for all staff involved in post-mortem care, from medical staff to porters to medical examiners. In the United States, Medical Examiners and Coroners (ME/Cs) do an investigation of approximately 20% of deaths. Unexpected deaths relating to a deceased person who has contracted an infectious disease typically fall under the jurisdiction of ME/Cs. In this situation, morgue personnel are at a higher risk of contracting an occupationally-acquired disease if it is one that is highly infectious.

An RTLS system offers the means to indicate if a body is suspected of being infectious, and then generating an alert if personnel come within range of the infectious remains and they should don the appropriate personal protection and equipment.

Improving workflow processes

Hospital and government morgues can be busy environments, with deceased patients arriving at all hours to undergo post-mortem care. A real-time location system automates and streamlines facilities’ workflow, making processes more efficient and reliable. In addition, accurate identification and tracking enable morgues to comply with local and federal laws and requirements. Automated tracking allows personnel to ensure a complete chain-of-custody of the decedent from arrival to final disposition.

Being prepared for a health emergency

A mass or multi-fatality incident (MFI) can rapidly overwhelm a hospital if there is a high number of sudden deaths due to a health emergency, natural disaster or large, accidental or intentional incident. It can take several days for ME/Cs and private mortuaries to respond, to process and recover decedents. A real-time location system aids health care professionals in accurately identifying, tracking and safeguarding decedents during a state of emergency.

A hospital or government morgue’s risk management plan benefits from the effective tool of a real-time location system. It prevents the risk of missing or mishandled decedents and the potential for expensive and damaging lawsuits. As well, RTLS platforms provide improved communication with internal stakeholders and external partners, which leads to enhanced end-to-end post-mortem care and the respectful handling of the person after death.

For more information on RTLS technology and decedent patient tracking, please contact us for a demo.

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