Postmortem Care

Jeanne Pfeiffer, DNP, MPH, RN, CIC Infection Control Practitioner

University of Minnesota School of Nursing
Minneapolis, MN

Original Publication:
October 2, 2014


Postmortem care is an evolving specialty that needs to be performed within the framework of preparing for a possible investigation into the cause of death. The initial handling of the deceased is dictated by state and local regulations that determine the cause of death. If an autopsy is required to determine the cause of death, specific protocol to prevent destruction of evidence that might be needed during an investigation will need to be followed carefully. This chapter describes protocol to be followed for patients who expire while under medical care, references procedures that can place staff at risk for occupational exposure, and outlines considerations for handling the decedents from mass casualties.