Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Wednesday said that invasive technique should not be adopted for forensic autopsy in coronavirus death cases as mortuary staff are exposed to potentially dangerous health risks due to organ fluids and secretions even after taking the highest precautions. ICMR in its 'Standard Guidelines for Medico-legal autopsy in COVID-19 deaths in India', said, "It will prevent the spread of infection to doctors, mortuary staff, police persons and all the people in the chain of dead body disposal." The move comes after reports of mortuary and medical staff also being tested positive at places.
ICMR's latest guidelines said that the deaths in hospital and under medical care owing to coronavirus infection is a non-medicolegal case or non-MLC. It doesn't require postmortem examination and the required certification of death should be done by treating doctors, it added.
"The forensic autopsy of these cases may be waived off," it said. In some homicidal, accidental or suicidal death cases, the deceased may be coronavirus confirmed or suspected. If the patient dies in hospital, the clinical records and all other relevant documents may be sent along with the body for forensic autopsy. "The investigating police officer must proactively take steps to waive off unnecessary autopsies during such a pandemic situation," the guidelines said.
According to the procedure of conducting forensic autopsy, "...along with external examination, multiple photographs and verbal autopsy (as depicted by WHO)...post-mortem should be conducted strictly avoiding any invasive surgical procedures and avoiding splashing of body fluids contact for staff, body handlers and doctors conducting post-mortem." As per the guidelines, if a coronavirus test report is awaited, the body must not be released from a mortuary until the final report is received and after the formalities, it must be handed over to the district administration.