This guidance was produced by the Royal College of Pathologists and the AAPT in conjunction with Public Health England.
Over the course of the last week or so, Dr. Mike Osborn and I have been in conversation with a range of experts, including the scientist leading the COVID-19 response for PHE and the Senior Medical Advisor on Unusual Threats (at PHE Porton Down) who have operational knowledge of pathology/mortuaries, to try to pin down advice on this subject. We were acutely aware that the advice needed to be based on scientific evidence, not cost considerations or emotional responses. The result is the joint RCPath/AAPT guidance being released today.
We both believe we have clarified this guidance, and are totally confident that it is fit for purpose and safe. I have adapted PHE’s own table to explain the guidance, which basically splits between autopsy (i.e. aerosol-generating) and non-autopsy (i.e. non-aerosol-generating) procedures.You will note that the guidance states that body bags are not required for COVID-19 infection reasons, but we completely understand that they may well be required to prevent contamination of the wider mortuary environment from leakage, or to preserve the dignity of the deceased during transfer/storage, etc.
I want to be completely clear: This guidance does not prevent the use of body bags for other, practical reasons, such as maintaining dignity or controlling leakage, as per your usual, local operating procedures.
Please feel free to contact me via the usual channels if you have any questions.
John Pitchers FAAPT FRSPH MIBMS
Chair, Association of Anatomical Pathology Technology