Autopsy Safety

Special operational procedures must be maintained i nside the autopsy room for the safety of health personnel.

Although it was believed that autopsy should be carried out in broad daylight, the theory held true during times where electric lighting system was not well developed. These days, a properly ventilated and well-illuminated room can serve the purpose very well. Ample running water and proper drainage system, aided by waste management, is essential for a clean mortuary. The autopsy room should be located at a reasonable distance from hospital, to avoid contamination and exposure of infective materials and odor. Use of UV lamps after working hours and weekly fumigation is recommended.

Separate working area is needed for high-risk cases to minimize exposure. Unauthorized personnel should not be allowed in. All personnel should be immunized for tetanus, tuberculosis, hepatitis B, etc. and educated about hazards and preventive measures, self-safety and safety of others.

First aid tool kit should be available, in case of any mishaps like cuts, pricks, etc. A periodic medical checkup is necessary to all individuals working in and around mortuary.

Logistics like caps, gloves, googles suits, gowns, apron, boots, arm sleeves, etc. must be abundantly present and replaced periodically by new ones.

Floor, walls and instruments are contaminated with rough handling of bodies, resulting in splashes of fluids and water, and this should be minimized to the extent possible.

In case of cuts and pricks, contamination must be avoided and bleeding hastened to assist disinfection, by washing under clean running water. Splashes to eyes must be treated by washing eyes with cold running water immediately. All accidents inside autopsy room must be documented and the victim must be screened regularly.

Instruments dipped in Hydrogen Peroxide (1:40 solution) for 2 hours can be considered safe to use although autoclaving is ideally recommended.

Plastic apron, hair cap, gumboots, gloves and facemask, as well as liquid soap, running water are essential in any autopsy room.

Steps to keep autopsy instruments clean:

  • Use forceps to gather all instruments in a perforated tray.
  • Wash instruments under running water and try removing all stains.
  • Put instruments in soap solution and clean with ordinary brush for persistent stains.
  • Wash in running water repeatedly.
  • Put instruments in Hydrogen Peroxide solution tray.