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Safe Patient Handling in Decedent Management: Ensuring Safety and Compliance in Hospital Morgues

Hospital morgues play a critical role in managing deceased individuals, and ensuring the safety and well-being of morgue personnel is paramount. From standard to bariatric decedents, the handling and storage of bodies require special considerations to prevent injuries and promote a safe working environment. In addition to addressing infection control and hazardous material management, this blog post will focus on the importance of safe patient handling practices in decedent management, exploring best practices and regulatory guidelines to ensure compliance and protect the health of morgue staff.

Key Concerns in Hospital Morgues

1. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Compliance

Adhering to OSHA standards is essential to ensure morgue personnel work in a safe environment. However, specific considerations related to patient handling are not always explicitly addressed in general OSHA regulations.

Best Practice: Hospitals should consider integrating safe patient handling protocols into their existing OSHA compliance training. Providing specialized training on safe handling techniques for decedents, including standard and bariatric cases, can significantly reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries.

2. Infection Control

Infection control remains a top priority in morgue environments to prevent the spread of pathogens and protect staff. The risks are particularly high during the handling and storage of deceased individuals.

Best Practice: Apart from general infection control measures, morgue personnel should receive specific training on infection control practices related to patient handling. This includes proper use of PPE, disinfection protocols for handling bariatric decedents, and frequent hand hygiene.

3. Storage and Handling

Storage and handling of decedents, especially bariatric cases, require specialized equipment and protocols to ensure the safety of both staff and the deceased.

Best Practice: Hospitals should invest in appropriate lifting and transfer equipment, such as lift-assist devices and bariatric body trays, to facilitate safe handling. Staff training on the proper use of this equipment and implementing standard operating procedures for transferring bariatric decedents are crucial.

4. Hazardous Material Management

Hazardous materials used in preservation and embalming processes pose risks to morgue personnel, especially during patient handling.

Best Practice: When dealing with hazardous materials in decedent management, hospitals should ensure staff are trained in handling chemicals safely, and proper PPE is provided to mitigate exposure risks during patient transfers.

Ergonomic Considerations in Patient Handling

Patient handling tasks in the morgue environment can be physically demanding and may lead to musculoskeletal injuries if not managed properly. This is particularly true when dealing with bariatric decedents, given their additional weight.

Best Practice: Implementing ergonomic considerations is crucial to promoting the well-being of morgue staff. Hospitals should:

a) Provide Specialized Training: Training morgue personnel in safe patient handling techniques, including proper lifting and transfer methods, can prevent strain injuries.

b) Use Mechanical Lifts: Mechanical lifts or hoists can reduce the physical strain on staff when handling bariatric decedents. Using this equipment for transfers is recommended to minimize the risk of injuries.

c) Encourage Team Lifting: For cases where mechanical lifts are not available or suitable, encouraging team lifting and collaboration among staff can distribute the load and reduce individual strain.


Ensuring safety and compliance in hospital morgues requires a comprehensive approach that includes addressing infection control, hazardous material management, and safe patient handling practices. While adhering to OSHA standards and state-specific regulations is crucial, focusing on safe patient handling for standard and bariatric decedents is equally important. By investing in proper training, equipment, and ergonomic considerations, hospitals can create a safer environment for morgue personnel, protect their well-being, and maintain the dignity of the deceased throughout the decedent management process.

About Pathtraker: Transforming Decedent Management

Pathtraker is decedent management software addressing the decedent handling procedure in clinical, educational, and law enforcement settings. Pathtraker provides core functionality focusing on service levels and staff safety requirements surrounding the management of decedent remains. Visit to download the Scimedico White Paper, "Environmental Health and Safety l Morgue Workflow, Compliance, and the Topic of Safety and Hazard Issue Ownership in the Morgue Setting."

About Pathtraker: Transforming Decedent Management

Scimedico provides turn-key maintenance, compliance, and safety solutions for Pathology. Scimedico’s Whole Pathology Solution addresses the Pathology Lab setting as a complete clinical environment - all delivered on the Platform. Our Whole Pathology Solution (WPS) delivers scalable integrated services that take into account all facets of the Pathology environment. To download the Scimedico White Paper introducing Whole Pathology Solutions visit



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