NEWS 最新消息


Forensic Magazine April 9, 2020: How Forensic Pathologists Handle the Coronavirus Dead

Most scientists and doctors in the coronavirus crisis are working to save the living. Those in the field of forensic pathology, however, focus on the dead.

Ahmad Samarji, a Lebanon-based scholar of forensic science, reports on the extraordinary challenges facing coroners and pathologists in outbreak zones, where governments have to take “very limited but essential choices” to avoid a dangerous pileup of dead bodies. This Q+A has been edited and condensed for publication.

Q: What is the role of forensic pathologists in a pandemic?

A: Forensic pathologists are physicians who integrate law and medicine to determine the cause, mechanism, manner and time of a person’s death. Their everyday work has important legal, social and economic consequences for family members of the deceased and for the larger community.

During a pandemic, forensic pathologists are heavily involved in managing the crisis, either within their local communities or as part of a humanitarian mission working with vulnerable communities abroad.

Their role in these extremely challenging times is to ensure the proper management of dead bodies, minimizing the spread of the virus, and to guide authorities, hospitals and funeral directors about the “do’s and don'ts” of dealing with these bodies.

There is a general assumption in medicine that dealing with the deceased does not require the same urgency as working with an acutely ill patient, and normally that is true. However, in a pandemic like COVID-19, large numbers of the dead can quickly exceed local capacities if not managed in a timely manner.

With highly infectious diseases, it is urgent that the post-mortem procedures – from death, examination, certification, registration and release of the body to safe cremation or burial – flow as properly and smoothly as possible.

Q: Are the bodies of COVID-19 victims infectious? more

Copyright c Taiwan Society of Forensic Medicine, All Rights Reserved.