SPOKANE COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER'S OFFICE
Statement of Policy, Procedure and Practice
Policy Title: BODY TRANSPORT AND HANDLING
The Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office contracts for removal services, to
provide for body transport and handling of decedents falling under the jurisdiction of the
Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office. The removal personnel are not direct
employees of any local mortuary or funeral home. The Spokane County Medical
Examiner's Office staff contacts the transport agency and arranges for removal of the
bodies of decedents. Despite the fact that the transport services staff are not employees
of Spokane County, the contract implies that they will be professional, and requires
them to comply with all applicable policies and procedures of the Spokane County
Medical Examiner's Office.
Procedures and Practices:
• The body transport agency will respond in a timely fashion, as prescribed by their
contract (within 1-hour of notification).Occasionally exceptional caseload
prevents a one-hour response. If this creates a difficulty on scene, the reason for
the delay can be documented by the investigator. The response timing begins
when the Medical Examiner's Office staff makes phone contact with the removal
• The transport agency personnel will not interfere with the investigative process.
That is, they will not have any direct involvement with any investigation, and will
not hamper the work performed by Medical Examiner Death Investigators, or
local Police Officers, Sheriff's Deputies, Washington State Patrol, or Forensic
• Transport staff will wear gloves whenever contacting a body or body fluids. They
will have available and use other items of personal protective equipment as
needed or as directed, including masks, shoe covers, and clothing covers.
• The transport agency personnel will treat the dead with respect, and will deal with
families in a compassionate way.
BODY TRANSPORT AND HANDLING
The contracted removal service staff will take the following steps when removing and
transporting a body to the Medical Examiner's Office:
1. When picking up bodies and unaccompanied by Medical Examiner staff or other
agencies, or when directed by the Medical Examiner's Office Death Investigator
or by a local Police agency representative, an identification band will be placed
on the body and labeled with the name provided by Death Investigator or Police
authority or agency (hospital, nursing home, etc,).
If the remains are unidentified, the ID band will be labeled as "UDM or UDF,"
along with the date and physical address of scene (i.e. UDM2/14/03,102 N.
Division) and a letter "A" or "B" (depending on the total number of unidentified
bodies at the scene of investigation). The body bag will be closed, then sealed
with a tamper-proof, consecutively numbered tag.
2. After the body bag is sealed, the decedent's name is written in permanent ink on
the body bag. If the decedent's name is unknown, the body bag will be labeled
with the same identifying information found on the ID band. Also the tamper-
proof tag number is written on the body bag, and any other pertinent information
is also inscribed (such as the presence of an I.D. card or medications in the body
3. During transportation the removal service employees will never leave a body
unattended. Bodies will be transported to the Medical Examiner's Morgue as-
soon-as is reasonable.
4. Upon arrival at the Medical Examiner's Office Holy Family Hospital Morgue
Facility at Holy Family Hospital, the transport agency staff will transfer the body
into the refrigerator and complete the body transport form as is described in other
policies. The log book will also be completed.
5. Transport agency personnel will leave the Holy Family autopsy facility secured,
6. The contract services staff will not access other compartments of the Medical
Examiner's Holy Family Morgue Facility, with the exception of the body receiving
area and body refrigeration unit.
BODY TRANSPORT AND HANDLING
7. When a transport agency is employed by local funeral homes for the purpose of
body removal from the Medical Examiner's Office, they shall follow all of the
procedures required of the local funeral homes in removing bodies. That is,
during the day they will access the Medical Examiner's facility with the
permission of the Medical Examiner staff, and will complete appropriate sign-out
procedures as directed by the Lead Autopsy Assistant or other staff. Body
removal during non-business hours, or week-end hours, will be accomplished
under the supervision of the Holy Family Hospital Security staff.
For further details see contract.
__________________________ _______ _________________________ _______
Sally Aiken, M.D. Date John D. Howard, M.D. Date
Medical Examiner Medical Examiner
Revised/Effective: Oct, 2003; Nov, 2008; Feb 2010
Computer File Name: Body Transport and Handling