The following guidance has been developed to provide advice in relation to reducing the risk of infection when preparing deceased patients for burial (Ghusl), for relatives and carers, including Funeral Arrangers.
Transmission of infection
The risk of infection from a deceased patient to those carrying out religious practices prior to burial, health is no greater than prior to the death of the patient.
Risk of infection from the deceased can occur by:
- Putting hands/fingers contaminated with body fluids into your mouth, eyes or nose
- Splashes of body fluids getting into your eye, mouth or breaks in the skin
- A skin penetrating injury into you or another person from a contaminated needle or sharp object
Body substances include:
Some people may be more susceptible to contracting infections than others. It is therefore important to remember some simple infection control practices:
- Cover cuts or abrasions with a waterproof plaster / dressing (change if it becomes wet / dislodged)
- This will ensure that any contaminated substance will not get into broken skin
- After personal contact with the deceased’s body before doing any other activity.
- After contact with items contaminated with body fluids.
- Before eating/preparing food.
- Before touching your mouth eyes or nose.
- Gloves should always be worn for contact with body substances / items contaminated with body substances / personal areas.
- Hands should be washed after removing gloves.
- If gloves are not required, hands should be washed after contact with the deceased.
- If medical devices have been left in the deceased and need to be removed they should be taken out and the site covered with a small dressing / plaster
- Hands should be washed after handling medical devices.
- Any soiled waste items or medical devices without needles should be double bagged (put into 2 plastic bags) and disposed of through the normal household waste method.
- Any needles removed from the deceased must be placed in a sealed jar/sharps bin.
- Care must be taken not to touch the sharp end of the needle.
- If a needle stick injury is sustained advices must be sought from your GP/A & E Department
Advice regarding infection risks can be sought from:
- The Clinician in charge of the deceased.
- The Infection Control Team via the hospital switchboard.
- The Local Health Protection Team.