Supporting protocol for the identification of unidentified patients in Health Services: facing COVID-19 and pandemic situations.

Patricio Carrasco, C Silva, Marianela Godoy, Beatriz Paulino

Research output: Other contribution


Health services have repeatedly been dealing with unidentified individuals at registration and misidentification incidents. For every single event, at the same time, healthcare professionals are unaware of the identity of a patient, they are also oblivious to their medical history and upfront answers to forthcoming obstacles. Such may compromise the patient’s right to safe and dignified care.
In this article, we address the non-identification or the misidentification of decedent victims from the infectious and contagious disease that is the new COVID-19. The high spreadability and mortality of this contemporary global pandemic called for virus containment measures that safeguard both the public and the professionals working alongside it. Therefore, and based on lessons learned from historical viral outbreaks, lawful authorities have instigated strict, diligent guidelines for safe patient handling. Essentially achieved by keeping interaction with infected patients as protected as possible and to the necessary minimum. Moreover, after reports that the virus outlives the carrier, autopsies are considered hazardous and are often rushed or discouraged to shorten body retention. Consequently, the collection of post-mortem specimens is affected.
In face of the above, we present a protocol that will facilitate the process of identifying unidentified patients, especially applicable to those who died with COVID-19. It is based on collecting and recording ante-mortem data and biological specimens in Health Services for posterior visual identification and kinship analysis. It will also assist in granting dignity to the deceased and their relatives in grief.
KEYWORDS: Unidentified patients, COVID-19, human identification, comparative analysis.
Translated title of the contributionProtocolo de apoyo para la identificación de pacientes no identificados en Servicios de Salud: ante situaciones de COVID-19 y pandemias.
Original languageEnglish
Type: Supporting protocol for the identification of unidentified patients in Health Services: facing COVID-19 and pandemic situations
Number of pages19
StatePublished - May 2021

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