Monday, February 20, 2012

Medical Question: The Morgue

DV asks: I am writing a thriller right now and need a description of a large city hospital morgue. I haven't tried to secure a tour yet (do they even allow that?) at a city nearby. All I need is to know how they're set up. I've read they're usually in the basement near a loading dock, and they're usually unmarked and secure.
Do they use a wall of refrigerated drawers? If not, what does the room look like? How are the bodies marked? Do they still use toe tags or is it all done electronically? Do they include cause of death? I'm afraid the smaller town I live in wouldn't have the same kind of morgue as a large city (the book takes place in LA). I'd like to have at least a semblance of reality.
Jordyn says:  DV, thanks for sending me your question.
I'm not familiar with a large city morgue either. Just a hospital morgue. I think you could probably call and set-up a tour. I'm sure you won't be the first person to ask. Another thing I would recommend would be to take your local police department’s citizens’ police academy. I took one locally last year and it was a wealth of information. Sometimes, through a venue like this, you might get the chance to tour a morgue.
Considering your question as a medical person, this is how I would research it.
Do a Google search for known medical examiner's buildings and get photos of the structure via the Internet for the outside look.
Next, go to You Tube and search for "morgue tour".
I thought this one was actually pretty good and gave decent enough info to set up a scene.

You could view others as your heart desires. Any other suggestions for DV?


DV Berkom grew up in the Midwest, received her BA in Political Science from the University of Minnesota, and promptly moved to Mexico to live on a sailboat.

Several years and at least a dozen moves later, she now lives outside of Seattle, Washington with her sweetheart Mark, an ex-chef-turned-contractor, and writes whenever she gets a chance. You're welcome to email her at dvb@dvberkom or chat with her on Facebook or Twitter- she loves to hear from readers as well as other writers.


  1. Dr. G.'s website has good info too. I never missed her show until Oprah's network bumped it from my satellite service.

    1. Paula,

      Well, that was not very nice of Oprah was it! I'd rather watch Dr. G, too. I caught her show a few times but not much lately. So strange she was involved in the Casey Anthony case.

  2. I think it would be fascinating to tour a large city morgue. If you ever do, blog about it so we can learn!

    1. Donna,

      Maybe you and I can go together. Are you game?