Does your EMS agency have protocols for deceased patients in public?

Communication is vital to maintaining privacy and EMS public relations when a patient is pronounced in a public setting

Recently, a county EMS agency was taken to task by local media when a crew left the body of a deceased individual outside in public view after an unsuccessful resuscitation. According to local news accounts, it took nearly three hours for a funeral home to retrieve the body. The patient’s wife was sitting with the body for much of that time.

Not having spoken to anyone directly involved with the incident, I find some of the reported aspects a bit vague. However, a couple of key points did come to mind as I read about the incident, mostly centered on communication and public relations. 

Field pronouncements and patient transport

With a growing number of EMS systems discontinuing the futile practice of transporting cardiac arrests, field pronouncements have become the norm. Unfortunately, EMS providers are often inadequately trained on how to manage a death scene, from delivering bad news to surviving family, to how to best manage the body.


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