Death is challenging when it’s unexpected and is even more traumatizing when a body remains undiscovered for days, weeks, or even months following the death. Such cases are referred to as unattended deaths.
What Defines an Unattended Death?
An unattended death takes place when someone dies alone and is not immediately discovered. In many cases, this happens when an older person dies of natural causes, and because they live alone and aren’t checked on regularly, days or weeks may pass before their bodies are found.
Other times the cause of death could be a sudden health issue such as a heart attack or stroke, or if someone has an accident at home and is not found for some time. Other less common but still possible causes of unattended deaths include homicide and suicide.
Regardless of the cause of death, it’s ultimately deemed “unattended” when the person dies alone and isn’t discovered the same day. An autopsy is often required to determine the cause of an unattended death.
How is an Unattended Death Different From an Attended Death?
An attended death is exactly how it sounds. It’s when a person doesn’t die alone. Typically someone is at their side during their final breaths. When someone dies attended, there’s no need for a further investigation or autopsy as long as it’s considered legally attended.
Most commonly, an attended death includes patients that die in a hospital, at a long-term care facility, under the supervision of hospice care, at home under a doctor’s care, or at home in the presence of others within 30 days of seeing a doctor.
Why Unattended Deaths Require Professional Cleanup
When someone experiences an attended death, the body is quickly removed to be embalmed or cremated and therefore is not a health hazard. On the other hand, when a body is left to decompose, it can be hazardous to your health to come into contact with it.
There are more bacteria in the human body than cells. Bacteria get their nutrients from our blood supply, and when the blood supply is cut off at the point of death, it begins to feed on the body’s organs. As this happens, dangerous toxins are released that are harmful to humans and can even cause physical damage to the environment around them.
A body decomposes in three stages.
- The pH level of the body becomes acidic, causing membranes to burst and enzymes to release. These enzymes then begin to digest the cells.
- Gases are produced by bacteria, fungi, and protozoa that start to liquefy the dead tissue.
- Insects join microorganisms to remove any remaining soft tissue.
Unattended deaths need to be taken seriously. They are messy and discovering a body can be traumatizing as well. Leaving the cleanup to the family is physically harmful, and it can be emotionally damaging to see a family member go through the stages of decomposition.
That’s why hiring a team of trained decomposition cleanup professionals is your best option. At Austin Bio Clean, we sanitize, deodorize, and restore the area to its original state. Contact us to learn more.