The principles of SICPs and TBPs continue to apply whilst deceased individuals remain in the care environment. This is due to the ongoing risk of infectious transmission via contact although the risk is usually lower than for living patients.
It is important that information on the infection status of the deceased is sought and communicated at each stage of handling. Appropriate risk assessment must be carried out before performing activities that may increase the risk of transmission of infectious agents from deceased individuals (see literature review for further information on these activities).
Washing and/or dressing should not be carried out when the deceased is known or suspected to have been infected by any of the following key infectious agents: Hazard Group 4 organisms, anthrax, and rabies. For other HCIDs a local risk assessment should be undertaken to inform any decision making on washing and/or dressing of the deceased.
Viewing of the deceased should be avoided when the deceased is known or suspected to have been infected by Hazard Group 4 organisms, specifically those causing VHFs (including Ebola, Lassa etc.) and anthrax. For other HCIDs a local risk assessment should be undertaken to inform any decision making on viewing of the deceased.
Staff should advise relatives of the appropriate precautions when viewing and/or having physical contact with the deceased including when this should be avoided.
Deceased individuals known or suspected to have a Hazard Group 4 infectious agent should be placed in a sealed double plastic body bag with absorbent material placed between each bag. The surface of the outer bag should then be disinfected with 1000 ppm av.cl before being placed in a robust sealed coffin.
Post-mortem examination should not be performed on a deceased individual known or suspected to have Hazard Group 4 infectious agents. See Appendix 12 Application of infection control precautions in the deceased. Blood sampling can be undertaken in the mortuary by a competent person to confirm or exclude this diagnosis. Refer to Section 2.4 for suitable PPE.
Post-mortem examination of deceased individuals known or suspected to have been infected by transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) causing agents should be carried out in such a way as to minimise contamination of the working environment. See Literature review for further information.