Infection prevention and control when caring for the deceased

The principles of SICPs and TBPs continue to apply while deceased individuals remain in the care environment. This is due to the ongoing risk of infectious transmission via contact although the risk is usually lower than for living patients.

Washing and/or dressing of the deceased should be avoided if the deceased is known or suspected to have an invasive streptococcal infection, viral haemorrhagic fevers or other Group 4 infectious agents. See Appendix 12.

Staff should advise relatives of the precautions following viewing and/or physical contact with the deceased and also when this should be avoided.

Deceased individuals known or suspected to have a Hazard Group 4 infectious agent should be placed in a sealed double plastic body bag with absorbent material placed between each bag. The surface of the outer bag should be disinfected with 1000ppm before being placed in a robust sealed coffin.

Post-mortem examination should not be performed on a deceased individual known or suspected to have Hazard Group 4 infectious agents. See Appendix 12. Blood sampling can be undertaken in the mortuary by a competent person to confirm or exclude this diagnosis. Refer to Section 2.4 for suitable PPE.

Refer to HSG283 – managing infectious risk when handling the deceased for more information.

Manual contents

Chapter 1: Standard infection control precautions (SICPs)

Chapter 2: Transmission based precautions (TBPs)


Download a PDF copy of the National infection prevention and control manual for England