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SOUTH AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY 
REGISTERED UNIT STANDARD: 

Assist with post mortem examination procedures 
SAQA US ID UNIT STANDARD TITLE
243631  Assist with post mortem examination procedures 
ORIGINATOR
SGB Forensic Science 
PRIMARY OR DELEGATED QUALITY ASSURANCE FUNCTIONARY
-  
FIELD SUBFIELD
Field 08 - Law, Military Science and Security Safety in Society 
ABET BAND UNIT STANDARD TYPE PRE-2009 NQF LEVEL NQF LEVEL CREDITS
Undefined  Regular  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  12 
REGISTRATION STATUS REGISTRATION START DATE REGISTRATION END DATE SAQA DECISION NUMBER
Reregistered  2018-07-01  2023-06-30  SAQA 06120/18 
LAST DATE FOR ENROLMENT LAST DATE FOR ACHIEVEMENT
2024-06-30   2027-06-30  

In all of the tables in this document, both the pre-2009 NQF Level and the NQF Level is shown. In the text (purpose statements, qualification rules, etc), any references to NQF Levels are to the pre-2009 levels unless specifically stated otherwise.  

This unit standard does not replace any other unit standard and is not replaced by any other unit standard. 

PURPOSE OF THE UNIT STANDARD 
This unit standard is intended for persons who will be assisting the forensic pathologist during the post mortem examination. This person will be involved in preparing the autopsy room, assisting with the autopsy and in the activities required after performing the post mortem examination. This person will be able to conduct all the required duties safely and in line with Occupational Health and Safety principles and current legislation.

Persons credited with this unit standard will be able to:
  • Prepare for an autopsy.
  • Prepare the body for the post mortem examination.
  • Assist with post mortem procedures.
  • Conduct concluding procedures of the post mortem process. 

  • LEARNING ASSUMED TO BE IN PLACE AND RECOGNITION OF PRIOR LEARNING 
  • Communication at NQF Level 4.
  • Apply knowledge of anatomy, patho-physiology and trauma pathology at NQF Level 5. 

  • UNIT STANDARD RANGE 
    In this unit standard post mortem examination includes, but is not limited to an autopsy.
  • Evidence refers to physical, testimonial, documentary and behavioural evidence. The evidence referred to in this unit standard is constitutes "potential evidence".
  • Forensic Medical Practitioners include Specialist Forensic Pathologists and Forensic Medical Officers.
  • When referring to injuries, wounds are also implied.

    "Given Situation" refers to forensic case studies, structured scenarios, particular contexts. 

  • Specific Outcomes and Assessment Criteria: 

    SPECIFIC OUTCOME 1 
    Prepare for an autopsy. 
    OUTCOME RANGE 
    Preparation includes the autopsy room, equipment, staff and documentation. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 1 
    The difference between an autopsy and a post mortem examination is described in terms of its practical implications. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 2 
    Equipment and facilities of the autopsy room are identified and described in terms of their uses. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
  • Equipment should include x-ray equipment, instruments, dissection tables, trolleys, pans, instruments, consumables.
  • Facilities should include lighting, refrigeration, water and drainage, ventilation, personal protective equipment and clothing.
     

  • SPECIFIC OUTCOME 2 
    Prepare body for post mortem examination. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 1 
    Types of injuries and wounds are identified and classified in order to explain the manner of injury. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Wounds and injuries include mechanisms such as sharp, blunt, shearing, decelerative, accelerative and gravitational.
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 2 
    The body is assessed in terms of its injuries to determine the equipment needed and evidentiary processes to be followed. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Evidentiary processes refer to evidence handling and collection.
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 3 
    Reasons and methods for securing valuables and possessions are explained with examples. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 4 
    Types of evidence are identified to determine methods of handling the evidence. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Evidence includes but is not limited to exhibits and samples of clothing, biological evidence, projectiles, imaging of the body, specimens for toxicological analysis, entomological specimens and specimens for forensic odontology.
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 5 
    High risk autopsies are differentiated to determine specific autopsy modus operandi. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
  • High risk: biological, chemical, radiation.
  • Requirements include referrals, isolation autopsies.
     

  • SPECIFIC OUTCOME 3 
    Assist with post mortem procedures. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 1 
    The body is assessed in order to collect evidence. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Assessment includes determining if the body should be cleaned. Evidence includes, but is not limited to, clothing, anthropological and biological evidence, projectiles, specimens for toxicological analysis, entomological specimens and specimens for forensic odontology.
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 2 
    Evisceration techniques are demonstrated on the body in a given situation. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Evisceration techniques may include spinal cord, bloodless neck, Letulle, Ghon, Virchow, Rokitansky, pneumothorax and air embolism.
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 3 
    Selected imaging techniques are performed in order to maintain the integrity of the evidence. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Imaging techniques may include photography and x-ray.
     

    SPECIFIC OUTCOME 4 
    Conduct concluding procedures of the post mortem process. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 1 
    The chain of custody is explained for the purposes of preserving the integrity of evidence. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION NOTES 
    Preserving includes documenting of the process. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 2 
    The body is reconstructed and cleaned after completion of the autopsy process. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 3 
    Principles of body storage are explained in terms of their effect on the preservation of evidence and the body. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Body storage may include refrigeration and temperature.
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 4 
    Cleaning and disinfecting procedures are explained in terms of their influence on personal and environmental safety. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 5 
    Methods of handling evidence are demonstrated to maintain the chain of custody. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Handling includes securing, storing and dispatching evidence.
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 6 
    Principles for release of the body are explained in accordance with legal prescripts. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Acts include relevant parts of The Inquest Act, the Birth and Death Registration Acts, Criminal Procedures Act.
     


    UNIT STANDARD ACCREDITATION AND MODERATION OPTIONS 
    An individual wishing to be assessed (including through RPL) against this unit standard may apply to an assessment agency, assessor or provider institution accredited by the relevant ETQA, or an ETQA that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the relevant ETQA.
  • Anyone assessing a learner against this unit standard must be registered as an assessor with the relevant ETQA or an ETQA that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the relevant ETQA.
  • Any institution offering learning that will enable achievement of this unit standard or assessing this unit standard must be accredited as a provider with the relevant ETQA or an ETQA that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the relevant ETQA.
  • Moderation of assessment will be conducted by the relevant ETQA at its discretion. 

  • UNIT STANDARD ESSENTIAL EMBEDDED KNOWLEDGE 
  • Administrative duties: scribing duties, note-taking and record-keeping during and after a post mortem examination.
  • Understanding the relevant sections of current legal prescripts pertaining to the performance of medico-legal autopsies:

    > Criminal Procedures Act 51 of 1977.
    > Inquest Act.
    > Human Tissues Act 65 of 1983.
    > National Health Act 61 of 2003.
    > Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993.
    > Birth, Death and Registrations Act 51 0f 1992. 

  • UNIT STANDARD DEVELOPMENTAL OUTCOME 
    N/A 

    UNIT STANDARD LINKAGES 
    N/A 


    Critical Cross-field Outcomes (CCFO): 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO WORKING 
    Working in a team in that a learner must recognise that he or she is required to work as part of a team in a post mortem examination. 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO ORGANISING 
    Self management in that the learner is responsible for organising and managing him/herself in relation when preparing for the post mortem examination and in assisting the forensic pathologist/medical practitioner. 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO COLLECTING 
    Learners are required to collect, analyze, organise and critically evaluate information in relation to the collection of information around a post mortem examination. 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO COMMUNICATING 
    Learners are required to communicate about post mortem examination issues using a variety of communication methods. 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO SCIENCE 
    Learners are required to use science and technology through the use of imaging techniques, mortuary equipment and dissection techniques. 

    UNIT STANDARD ASSESSOR CRITERIA 
    N/A 

    REREGISTRATION HISTORY 
    As per the SAQA Board decision/s at that time, this unit standard was Reregistered in 2012; 2015. 

    UNIT STANDARD NOTES 
    The chain of custody is the pathway that physical evidence follows from the time it is collected until it has served its purpose in the legal investigation of an incident. A record of the chain of custody must reflect the number of times a piece of evidence has changed hands or location prior to its final destination. 

    QUALIFICATIONS UTILISING THIS UNIT STANDARD: 
      ID QUALIFICATION TITLE PRE-2009 NQF LEVEL NQF LEVEL STATUS END DATE PRIMARY OR DELEGATED QA FUNCTIONARY
    Core  58183   National Diploma: Forensic Pathology Support  Level 5  NQF Level 05  Reregistered  2023-06-30  SAS SETA 


    PROVIDERS CURRENTLY ACCREDITED TO OFFER THIS UNIT STANDARD: 
    This information shows the current accreditations (i.e. those not past their accreditation end dates), and is the most complete record available to SAQA as of today. Some Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionaries have a lag in their recording systems for provider accreditation, in turn leading to a lag in notifying SAQA of all the providers that they have accredited to offer qualifications and unit standards, as well as any extensions to accreditation end dates. The relevant Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionary should be notified if a record appears to be missing from here.
     
    NONE 



    All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.