My feed
Premium

Please
or
to access all these features

AMA

I work in a Mortuary - AMA

94 replies

MortuaryAMA · 15/07/2018 19:33

I know this is a sensitive topic, but in day to day life I get so many questions surrounding what it is like and how I deal with certain situations.

I will answer as honestly, tactfully and sensitively as i can.

OP posts:
Report
TwigTheWonderKid · 15/07/2018 19:46

Do you work in a hospital mortuary?

Report
snowsun · 15/07/2018 19:48

What lead you to this career ?

What is your roll ?

It's such an important job and can make such a difference to families.

Report
Rememory · 15/07/2018 20:11

Do dead bodies make occasional noises and movements? Releasing air that sort of thing

Report
YouCanAskMeAnything · 15/07/2018 20:20

Do you talk to the corpses? Treat them like they are still around. I quite like the idea of someone treating me like I am still worthy of idle chit chat!

Report
tillytillytilly2018 · 15/07/2018 20:24

Has anyone been brought to the morgue but was still alive?

Report
bychoiceornot · 15/07/2018 20:26

Similar question to YouCanAskMeAnything... as a nurse, when my patients pass away, we still talk to them as we are performing Last Offices, and I always say 'goodnight' or 'goodbye' as I leave the room - this last is just my little foible, but I wonder whether the time difference between ward (or hospice or home) staff being with the patient at the end of life and then still speaking to them afterwards makes a difference. Or do you still speak out loud at times to them once they are with you?

Report
MortuaryAMA · 15/07/2018 20:33

Do you work in a hospital mortuary?

Yes, I do. Sorry, I should have clarified, things are run differently in the NHS as opposed to private mortuaries and funeral home suites.]

What lead you to this career? What is your role?

I actually started off working as a volunteer in a related role (bereavement based with the police force). I have always been very interested in anatomy and physiology so when the job came up it ticked all the boxes for me.

My role is what they cal an Anatomical Pathology Technician (APT). I support families in viewings and prepare patients for them, book in the patient and release them to funeral homes when they are ready to leave. An interesting fact: the spaces in our mortuary are included in the hospitals overall bed spaces, eg if a hospital has 880 beds then 60 of those may be mortuary space.

Do dead bodies make occasional noises and movements?

When moving patients around they do tend to release gases. It's one of the thing that still gets me after so many years, especially when you move a person and their lungs expel air and vibrate their vocal chords.

Do you talk to the corpses?

Absolutely, yes! I think it helped that prior to working with the police I was an associate practitioner on the hospital wards. I always use their name, apologise to them, tell them what I am about to do, as I would a live patient.

OP posts:
Report
MortuaryAMA · 15/07/2018 20:39

Has anyone been brought to the morgue but was still alive?

It hasn't happened in my experience, and as far as I am aware no one else who works in the industry who I've spoken to has experienced it. It tends to happen in countries where medical care isn't to the standard it is here.

I wonder whether the time difference between ward (or hospice or home) staff being with the patient at the end of life and then still speaking to them afterwards makes a difference. Or do you still speak out loud at times to them once they are with you?

Personally I always welcome the patient into our care verbally, let them know what I am doing as I am doing it etc. I think it is very important to recognise them as a human being and somebody's loved one. I care for them how I would want my close relatives and friends to be cared for.

OP posts:
Report
RunMummyRun68 · 15/07/2018 20:50

What do you actually do?

Report
buckeejit · 15/07/2018 20:54

Did you like six feet under? I loved that show

Report
Penfold007 · 15/07/2018 20:58

Can I just say a heartfelt thank you to you and your fellow APT. My DSF died recently in hospital so went to the hospital mortuary and then the funeral home. The care both he and I were shown made a difficult situation much easier.

Report
Sickenedbyguilt · 15/07/2018 21:02

Did you have to any qualifications?

Report
restingbemusedface · 15/07/2018 21:02

Do you get scared/spooked?

Report
Annabelle4 · 15/07/2018 21:06

Do you believe in an afterlife?

Report
Beebiesandcheebies · 15/07/2018 21:07

Any weird/spooky happenings?

Report
Chocolatecoffeeaddict · 15/07/2018 21:11

What happens with bodies that are found badly decomposed and how do you deal with them?

Report
Whoateallthecheese · 15/07/2018 21:14

.

Report
YoYotheclown · 15/07/2018 21:20

How do you cope with seeing dead bodies everyday?

Report
MortuaryAMA · 15/07/2018 21:36

What do you actually do?

There is a lot to the role but I will try and outline a typical day in our Mortuary for you. I start the day at around 7 when we start the first post postmortems of the day. In a straightforward PM, it's my job to measure and weigh the patient, remove and weigh their organs and take samples for histology, toxicology and any others as required by the pathologist or coroner.

After that we clean down the PM room, followed by a quick break. After that we get stuck in with the assistants admitting and releasing patients, cleaning other equipment, hosting viewings for families. It really does vary day to day what we do but those are general duties off the top of my head!

In the afternoon we carry out more post mortems, usually fewer cases or forensic and special cases which require more time and precision. When we are done I will host a few more viewings or perhaps get some paperwork done (there is a LOT of paperwork, moreso than when I started).

At the end of the day we do a few checks to make sure everything is secure. We have someone on call to receive patients out of hours so we are always "manned" in some capacity.

Did you like six feet under?

I never watched it Blush I used to love silent witness though, until I started working in this industry. Now I just shout at the TV about it all being portrayed the wrong way Grin

Can I just say a heartfelt thank you to you and your fellow APT. My DSF died recently in hospital so went to the hospital mortuary and then the funeral home. The care both he and I were shown made a difficult situation much easier.

Thank you so much for your kind remarks. I always feel we are the forgotten, as people usually head straight to the ward with their cards and chocolates Envy - I am so pleased you had a positive experience at what is such a difficult time. We always try our hardest to make such a harrowing experience all the more bearable for the relatives. Flowers

Did you have to any qualifications?

It all depends on the hospital to be honest. Our trust expects a trainee to have GCSE grades in the core subjects. Other trusts don't, but most mortuaries nowadays favour someone with relevant experience, such as in funeral homes or anywhere where you would come across the bereaved (on wards, coroners offices, police force etc).

Do you get scared/spooked?

Honestly, yes. Far less now than I used to, but occasionally I will get a shiver up my spine. I think the scariest thing for me though is recognising my own mortality, which happens when I receive a patient who is of a similar age to me, my husband or my children.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

Yes and no. My beliefs are very fluid, in that some weeks I believe when we are gone we are gone, and others where I genuinely can't grasp the concept that we just vanish into nothing. I am not religious by any means, but I don't discount the ideology of religion. I guess ultimately I believe any of the above and much more cold meet us in the afterlife.

Any weird/spooky happenings?

The thing I have found the strangest so far is when we take in a patient quite soon after they have died, there is still a possibility that their limbs will contract. We have had incidences of placing people in one of our fridges with their legs flat and then when we bring them out later their knees are up or an arm has raised!

OP posts:
Report
ParkheadParadise · 15/07/2018 21:40

@MortuaryAMA
This is a very personal question.
When my dd1 died we were taken to the mortuary by our FLO. The coroner's liaison officer took 1 look at me and took the FLO away. When they returned the FLO said because I was pregnant only DH was needed to identify dd. I've never understood why that happened. Do you have any thoughts on why that would happen?

Report
MortuaryAMA · 15/07/2018 21:46

What happens with bodies that are found badly decomposed and how do you deal with them?

Generally, patients in these conditions are brought to us in specially made bags to prevent anything coming out during transportation and storage, such as fluids or insects. Cases such as this are brought in from the community and will always require a coroners post mortem due to an unexplained death.

Other than that they are dealt with in exactly the same way, within reason, to a patient who has died more recently. We store them the same and attempt a post mortem in the same manner we would a hospital post mortem, although we may not be able to take certain samples or if we can the results from them may come back as inconclusive due to the poor integrity of the sample itself.

How do you cope with seeing dead bodies everyday?

I'm not going to lie, sometimes it isn't at all easy. As I have mentioned previously there are cases that make you question your own mortality, others which make you lose faith in humanity and ones which make you hug your children all the tighter when you go home to them at night.

What I find important is being able to vent to my colleagues who understand what I am going through. In the two mortuaries I have worked in, the teams have been very, very close. It is so important when you do what we do to have a decent team behind you.

I also make sure that in my downtime I use it as actual downtime. Unless I am studying I focus on living my life, having fun and stepping completely away from it all for a while. I also try and spread my holidays out so I get frequent breaks!

OP posts:
Report
CraftyGin · 15/07/2018 21:51

Do you embalm your patients?

Report
MortuaryAMA · 15/07/2018 22:06

Do you embalm your patients?

Embalming tends to happen at the funeral home. I have asked a funeral director before if they embalm all bodies, but according to her they only embalm someone when it is absolutely necessary and possible to do so.

OP posts:
Report
Awwlookatmybabyspider · 16/07/2018 01:56

Sounds like a very interesting career and Most certainly a good conversation opener.
However it must be hard to almost impossible not feel emotional
Especially when you're dealing with the body of a child.
Yes I know you have to remain professional but, Professional or not you're still human.

Report
StorminaBcup · 16/07/2018 03:20

You have said you that you take out and weigh the organs, etc., when conducting a pm. Where does this information go?

For example, my DM had a pm as she died at home and all that was recorded was that she essentially choked on her own vomit bought on by her illness. Where does the detail of the pm you perform go if the official recorded info given to the relative is a summary? I hope I've made sense here!

Report
Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.