How to Care for a Client after Death (Nursing)

by Samantha Rhea, MSN, RN

My Notes
  • Required.
Save Cancel
    Learning Material 3
    • PDF
      Slides Postmortem Care Nursing.pdf
    • PDF
      Review Sheet Postmortem Care Nursing.pdf
    • PDF
      Download Lecture Overview
    Report mistake

    00:04 Hey guys, I want to take a moment to talk to you about a really difficult topic.

    00:09 We're going to talk today about care of the deceased client.

    00:13 I'm going to tell you straight off, this is a really difficult topic.

    00:16 In me, I can remember as a new nurse, the first time I ever experienced this.

    00:22 I remember really vividly of when the patient passed.

    00:26 When I was taking care of the client, I just remember thinking, this is kind of invasive and uncomfortable.

    00:33 But then after I provided that care to provide respect and dignity for that client, I tried my best to make sure the patient looked as much like themselves for when the family came in to view the patient and just provide that comfort.

    00:48 One little thing I remember me and my colleagues, what we did is this particular patient had a favorite shade of lipstick.

    00:55 We applied this before the family came in and I just remember making an impact and making some of the family smile.

    01:03 So again, this is a really difficult topic, but we're going to talk through some things to consider when you're caring for the deceased client.

    01:11 So there's quite a few nursing responsibilities when we're talking about a deceased client and the passing of your patient.

    01:18 The guys, first and foremost is going to be the family.

    01:22 Just know, this is a really difficult time and each experience is going to vary a little bit but this is important for the nurse to be a shoulder to cry on, to be there for the family and also make sure that when the family comes to view their loved one, that the environment is supportive to do so.

    01:41 You can even simply pull up some extra chairs in the room, provide Kleenex, but just know our family time with our patient is really important.

    01:51 You want to provide uninterrupted time as much as possible.

    01:55 So one tip to think about is that many times in the hospital or other facilities, we may know that the patient's going to pass, sometimes.

    02:04 It's not a bad idea, if you can, to find a point of contact, get funeral home information because once the patient passes, this is a really special time that we don't want to interrupt as the nurse.

    02:18 So we have that information ready if needed.

    02:22 Also know, there's some legal requirements that come with a patient passing.

    02:26 The patient may be an autopsy case, for example, or an organ and tissue donation.

    02:31 So just know, there's many responsibilities, but again, don't forget that our family is first and foremost.

    02:40 So let's talk about some things that we're going to need to help provide respect, dignity and care for our patients.

    02:46 It could be bathing supplies, cotton balls.

    02:50 And after the patient has passed,they may have certain identification or body wraps that we may need for our patient.

    02:57 Also clean sheets, absorbent pads.

    03:00 It's also really important to make sure we gather those patient's belongings because those are really important pieces that the family members may want for them.

    03:11 So before we get started, perform your hand hygiene and put on your gloves.

    03:15 We want to raise the bed to an appropriate working height and place the deceased client on a supine position.

    03:23 While taking care of our client, if the client wore dentures, this is a good time to go ahead and place them back in the client's mouth.

    03:31 Now we want to go ahead and close the patient's eyelids.

    03:34 Now if they will not close, a tip is to place a moistened cotton ball over their eyelids for a few minutes before re-attempting to close their eyes.

    03:44 We can also place a folded towel beneath the patient's chin to keep the mouth closed.

    03:49 And it's important to make sure we turn all equipment off and even remove it from the room.

    03:56 Now, just know if a patient has extra lines, tubes, drains, we want to remove this.

    04:03 And if there's any puncture sites, for example, we're going to cover these.

    04:07 But one really important to note as a nurse, some patient deaths are what we call a medical examiner case.

    04:14 So if that's the case, otherwise known as the M.E. case, We're going to make sure that we leave all lines, all dressings, all of these have to stay.

    04:26 Now, when we go to clean the patient's body, we're going to use our bathing supplies.

    04:31 We're going to place any soiled dressings, make sure the bed linens are clean and that means even the stuff underneath the patient.

    04:40 Now we can cover the client all the way up to the chin with clean linens.

    04:46 Once we've done this and the family has had their time to spend with a patient, we may need to identify the client with whatever hospital policy that you may use.

    04:56 Now, once we finish, we're going to remove our gloves, perform our hand hygiene and make sure all the client's belongings are gathered together.

    05:05 So it depends on your facility's policy.

    05:08 At this point, sometimes we can go ahead and give those to the family member but sometimes they have to be identified and sent to security.

    05:16 So just make sure you follow your agency's policy.

    05:19 We're going to perform hand hygiene and then document the procedure.

    05:23 Now, guys, before we go today, again, this is a pretty heavy topic.

    05:28 I just want you to know as a nurse, it is okay to feel emotions.

    05:33 It is a difficult time, you've spent a lot of time with this patient.

    05:37 There's going to be times you feel emotional, you may even cry with the family and that's perfectly okay.

    05:44 I do want to say, though, as a nurse, we are the people that the family looks for, for comfort and for what to do in this situation.

    05:52 It is okay to show emotions, to share stories maybe about the client but also know, we are their strong pillar during this journey to make sure they can grieve and be with their family.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture How to Care for a Client after Death (Nursing) by Samantha Rhea, MSN, RN is from the course Postmortem Care (Nursing).

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. The family and viewing
    2. Coordination with the funeral home
    3. Coordination of organ and tissue donation
    4. Signing the death certificate
    1. Bathing supplies, cotton balls, shroud kit, absorbent pads
    2. Bathing supplies, q-tips, sheets, nail file
    3. Cotton balls, belongings bag, shroud kit, nail clippers
    4. Shroud kit, bathing supplies, underwear, socks
    1. Lines, tubes, drains, wires, and dressings need to stay in place
    2. The patient should not be washed
    3. Patient's belongings should remain on the patient
    4. Lines should be removed

    Author of lecture How to Care for a Client after Death (Nursing)

     Samantha Rhea, MSN, RN

    Samantha Rhea, MSN, RN

    Customer reviews

    5,0 of 5 stars
    5 Stars
    4 Stars
    3 Stars
    2 Stars
    1  Star