Risk of transmission of disease and illness during post-mortem examinations is a serious and ever-growing concern in laboratories across the world. With proper protective wear and clean up measures, autopsy professionals need not to worry.
Medical Examiners are to take utmost precaution while performing autopsies on potential infectious cadavers. There are numerous ways in which disease could be spread. Predominantly airborne illnesses, such as Tuberculosis, can be transmitted as an aerosol from bone cutting dust. In addition to using a bone saw vacuum, the CDC advises that N95 disposable respirators be used for all individuals present during the autopsy. The room should be well ventilated and given adequate amount of time for the air to filter through before another autopsy is performed. Morticians are to take the same precautionary steps when preparing to embalm a deceased person with Tuberculosis.
HIV can pose a surprising hidden risk. It is important to not only take caution with coming in contact with infected bodily fluids, but to prepare for unexpected sharp objects. Sharp objects may be hidden in the body from previous medical surgeries. There may also be unforeseen objects related to the deceased individual’s lifestyle, including needle fragments from intravenous drug users. Radiographic screenings are suggested for cadavers who pose risk of sharp fragments.
Although Tuberculosis and HIV are some of the most common infectious concerns, it is crucial to take caution in all post-mortem exams.
Once an autopsy has been completed, it is pertinent to determine if sewing of the body is deemed necessary in infectious cases. Sewing closures is one of the most common penetrating injuries of medical examiners and should be a task only performed if absolutely necessary before transferring the body to a funeral home.
Once the body has been removed from the dissection area, it is critical to thoroughly clean and sanitize the workspace and tools. There are a myriad of cleaning options on the market, but several of Mopec’s cleaners are specially formulated to eliminate serious infectious pathogens. Path Cloud is proven to destroy both HIV-1 and Tuberculosis, as well as eradicate unpleasant odors. All work surfaces in the autopsy suite should be wiped down, and any tools should be thoroughly soaked in a disinfectant or discarded of properly.
If all cautionary measures are taken during the examination and the work space is ventilated, disinfected, and cleaned thoroughly, the risk of disease transmission during an autopsy is quite rare.