Infectious bodies and medical devices

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Infectious bodies

We inform undertakers of infectious risks by issuing an Infection control notification sheet. You will be asked to complete this form at the same time as you complete a death certificate. The staff of the Bereavement Office will advise, but if necessary, consult a histopathologist or microbiologist.

Medical devices

Pacemakers and defibrillators

Implantable devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators contain batteries which explode on incineration. It is therefore essential that they are removed from bodies prior to cremation. If you know that a body contains such a device, please inform the Mortuary APTs. If you are completing the first part of the cremation form, you are required to state if a device is present.

Defibrillators pose an additional hazard, in that they are liable to be triggered by the act of removing them from the body if they have not first been inactivated. Increasingly, they are indistinguishable from pacemakers on external inspection of the body. If you know that the device is a defibrillator, you must inform the Mortuary APTs specifically so that we can ask an ECG technician to inactivate the device.

Fixion™ intramedullary nails

Fixion™ intramedullary nails have a saline-filled chamber. On incineration, the steam pressure is sufficient to cause an explosion. You need to state on the first part of the cremation form if such an implant is present. At the time of implantation, the next of kin should have been advised of this hazard. Removal of the above devices are completed by the Funeral Directors.

 

(Last reviewed February 2020)