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What Does a Mortuary Technician Do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A mortuary technician assists funeral directors and pathologists in their duties. In funeral homes and autopsy facilities, technicians can handle administrative tasks, assist during procedures, and provide information to interested parties like family members of the deceased. The requirements to work in this field can depend on regulations and employer preferences. Some may be able to work without specific training or certification, while others need formal education in mortuary science, forensics, or a related field in order to provide assistance.

In the funeral home, a mortuary technician helps the funeral director, who is directly responsible for preparing bodies for viewing and working with families on funeral arrangements. Mortuary technicians work in the embalming room to maintain health and safety standards, keep the working environment clean, and make sure supplies are fully stocked. They may be sent out to collect remains, and can process incoming remains, make sure there is room for storage, and prepare them for embalming.

Embalming procedures are performed by a trained professional, but the mortuary technician can assist. People may need tools, help moving the body of the deceased, and assistance with adjustments to equipment. Once the body is fully prepared, mortuary technicians can participate in dressing, applying makeup, and other activities to get it ready for burial. They also help prepare bodies for viewings and may take them on their final journey to the cemetery or crematorium. Paperwork, including securing death certificates, can also be part of the job.

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At a forensic facility, the mortuary technician provides assistance with autopsies. This can include some evidence collection, such as fingernail scrapings and hair combings, along with taking photographs, laying out tools, and passing instruments to the pathologist during the procedure. To maintain the chain of custody and protect evidence, the technician needs to observe special precautions like wearing appropriate coverings and keeping the facility clean and orderly.

Mortuary technicians can also assist with paperwork, including autopsy documentation, death certificates, and related matters. They work under supervision, and do not have the authority to sign off on final reports independently. As liaisons for family members and investigators, they may help with the transmission of information, making sure forensic technicians, detectives, and others working on the case have the information they need. Family members with questions and concerns may interact with a mortuary technician, depending on facility protocols; in some facilities, the pathologist meets with family members directly.

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