July 30, 2020

New FAQs Address COVID-19 Concerns of Medicolegal Death Investigators

New answers to frequently asked questions published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention address concerns that medicolegal death investigators may have while working during the COVID-19 pandemic. Medicolegal death investigators investigate sudden, unexpected, and unnatural deaths, and usually work within offices of medical examiners and coroners. Typical tasks associated with these investigations occur at the scene of death and include obtaining information from the decedent’s family and other witnesses, confirming the identity of the decedent, and documenting and evaluating the scene and the decedent’s body. Medicolegal death investigators are also responsible for collecting post-mortem specimens for testing, preserving evidence related to the death, and supervising preparation of the body for transportation.

CDC’s new FAQs discuss information that medicolegal death investigators should gather to assess the potential risk for COVID-19, considerations for on-scene death investigations, and personal protective equipment for conducting investigations where COVID-19 is known or suspected. The agency also describes actions that medicolegal death investigators should take after exiting the building where the death occurred and considerations for the preparation and transport of a decedent in cases of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection.

Further details are available from CDC’s website.

Related: A feature article published in the March 2019 issue of The Synergist discusses industrial hygiene in the death care industry.