Workplace safety concerns in medico-legal death investigations related to COVID-19

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19, Death Investigations, Occupational Health Safety, autopsy, mortuary

Abstract

The personnel involved in the management of COVID-19 affected dead bodies, including law enforcement personnel at the scene of crime, personnel involved in transportation of the dead bodies, forensic practitioners, autopsy pathologists, mortuary personnel, as well as the family members of the dead, etc. are at risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Post-mortem examination is a high-risk procedure, considering that it involves aerosol generating procedures, and exposure to body fluids. The safety of the forensic practitioners and support staff in the management of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 deaths hence, is of extreme importance, especially in the absence of pre-autopsy testing for COVID-19 and due to non-availability of adequate first-hand medical history of the deceased. This communication aims to highlight the current practices and advises certain guidelines in ensuring occupational health and safety in view of these risks in medico-legal death investigations.

Author Biographies

Rijen Shrestha, Department of Forensic Medicine, Tribhuvan University Institute of Medicine, Kathmandu, Nepal

Lecturer, Department of Forensic Medicine, Tribhuvan University Institute of Medicine, Kathmandu, Nepal; PhD Research Scholar, Department of Anthropology, Panjab University, Chandigarh, India

Kewal Krishan, Department of Anthropology (UGC Centre of Advanced Study), Panjab University, Chandigarh, India

Dr. Kewal Krishan is a renowned forensic anthropologist and presently serving as Associate Professor and former Chairperson at the Department of Anthropology, Panjab University, Chandigarh, India. He passed his BSc (Hons.), MSc (Hons.), and Ph.D. from Panjab University, India. He is well known for his contributions to forensic and biological anthropology in Indian populations. He published more than 221 articles in international and national journals of repute including high impact and reputed journals such as Nature, Nature Medicine, and The Lancet. Dr. Krishan has contributed to the advancement of Forensic Science and its applications in Indian populations. He has devised many methods of criminal investigation and formulae to be used in the criminal investigation process.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kewal_Krishan_(forensic_anthropologist)

Tanuj Kanchan, Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Jodhpur, India

Additional Professor, Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Jodhpur, India

Published
2021-03-07
How to Cite
1.
Shrestha R, Krishan K, Kanchan T (2021) Workplace safety concerns in medico-legal death investigations related to COVID-19. J Infect Dev Ctries 15:247-253. doi: 10.3855/jidc.14584
Section
Coronavirus Pandemic