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Their Personal Belonging-Our Responsibility

 

Introduction

Patients personal belonging can be defined as a any goods or property belong to the patient but in the Department of Forensic Medicine perspective, any good or properties attached to the bodies/ deceased when we register the bodies like for example identification card, jewellery, and  also clothings.

Generally, basic service of Department of Forensic Medicine is managing the bodies starting from receive, register and lastly release the bodies to next of kin.

Receive and Register the Bodies

Department of Forensic Medicine receive bodies from two mains sources, first is from the hospital (ward or Emergency Department) while the other is brought in by a police.

Usually, for deaths in the wards or emergency department; all personal belongings will be handed to the next of kin before the body is sent to Forensics Department. They get all the personal belongings in the ward or registration room. While, for the body brought by police, all the personal belonging will be handed to Forensics Department staff along with the body during registration.

Body and Personal Belonging Management

Next, the body that is registered at the Forensics Department will be classified into medico legal and non medico legal cases.  For medico legal cases, autopsy must be done before the body is released to the family, while for non medico legal, the body will be handed to family without autopsy.

As an autopsy procedure, the medical officer will conduct an examination where all properties attached to the body will be recorded in an autopsy draft and photographed. After that, the bodies will undergo full procedure of autopsy.

There are two categories of personal belongings, one, the items required in police investigation example medico legal specimen, better known as ‘evidence’ and two, items not required or not related to police investigations.

Handling of Personal Belonging

After an autopsy, all the personal belongings will handle by an officer in charge for packaging and labelling process. Then, these specimens will be handed over to the investigating officer.
In a packaging process, every item will be packed separately, then it will labelled properly as below

  1. Name :
  2. Registration No.:
  3. Report No.:
  4. Autopsy No.:
  5. Date and time:
  6. Item Detail:

Packaging must be done properly to avoid any damage to the personal belonging. For medico legal cases, the packaging process will be following the ‘Standard of Procedure’ to avoid any cross contamination because it will affect the integrity of the evidence. Cross contamination may result in the evidence being rejected in court.

Storage Process

In certain situation, the personal belonging/evidence had to be kept until the next of kin or the police came to take it. Therefore all the personal belonging will be kept in the lock cabinet where a officer has access to these item. Thus, it is the officer’s responsibility to safeguard these items.

Submission Process

This is the final process where all the personal belongings will be handed to the family or police. To maintain the chain of custody of the properties, the submission form is prepared where the entire item will be listed. Every hospital have different format for their submission form but all the particular below are compulsory in the form

  1. Name of the decease
  2. List of the item
  3. The submitter name
  4. The recipient’s name
  5. Date and time

Family and police officer have to check the submission form whether all the personal belonging listed tally with the item that they received. After police or family satisfied with the item, both party (submitter and recipient) have to sign the form.

>> Flow Cart of Personal Belonging Management

Conclusion

As has been said, when the body is registered at the Forensics Department, (for medico legal cases), all their personal belongings are the department’s responsibility. The objective of personal belonging management are ensure that the family receive the item in good condition (as it original was upon receipt at Forensics Department) while for police, they receive the evidence base on standard of procedure. The personal belongings given to the police are also stored in proper order to enable the police to extricate evidence from it.

References

  1. Surat Pekeliling Ketua Pengarah Kesihatan Malaysia Bil. 10/2012 Standard Operating Procedures of Forensic Medicine Services : No. Rujukan KKM87/P1/34/8 Jld 4 (76) bertarikh 22 Februari 2012
  2. Prosedur Operasi MS ISO 9001:2008 PENGURUSAN HARTA BENDA PESAKIT

 

Last Reviewed : 8 September 2015
Writer : Mohd Faizul bin Abd Wahab
Accreditor : Dr. Sharifah Safoorah bt. Syed Alwi Al Aidrus