Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Script Call?

Another “strange’ call came in yesterday at the end of the day. An individual identifying themselves as a writer in LA (from a phone with an LA area code) wanted to ask a few questions.

Could the “toe tag” identifiers get switched accidentally on 2 bodies in the morgue? I suppose it would be possible when moving the bodies around the tags might come untied, fall off, and get retied to the wrong decedent. That is one of the reasons we have switched to hospital-like identification wristbands in my office (the only way they come off is if you cut them off).

Could 2 individuals coming in at the same time get misidentified as the other, essentially switching “identities”? It could (and it has, but not under my watch, those stories surface in the media from time to time), but we stay vigilant and cautious to prevent such an occurrence. For example, 2 young men came into the office after their deaths in an auto accident. They looked very similar, had similar body habitus, similar haircuts, similar clothing. We took the extra step of dental record comparison to ensure we identified them correctly.

Has the wrong person been buried or cremated after misidentification? Yes, again those stories do get into the media, but with our precautions in place in our office, the chances here are so remote as to be virtually impossible.

There were a few other questions regarding burying or cremating “John Doe”(s), lack of identifiability (probably not a word) due to lack of dental records or fingerprint matches, and the like. I don’t know what this guy was writing, but at least this one didn’t ask me how to kill someone.

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