7.1 Respect for the Deceased and their Relatives

    The Mortuary Procedures Manual shall provide guidelines for the ethical standards required when dealing with deceased persons, including the need for respect for the deceased and their relatives at all times and the need for recognition of different cultural and religious customs and practices. Protocols should include reference to relevant Australian Health Ethics Committee (AHEC) and Australian Health Ministers Advisory Committee (AHMAC) guidelines concerning ethical behaviour and practices and to recommendations issued by the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia and by state and institutional authorities.

    7.2 Dealing with Property and Clothing

    The Mortuary Procedures Manual should specify procedures for the handling and documentation of property and clothing. Two persons should always be present when removing and documenting clothing and property.

    7.3 Labelling of Specimens

    All staff should be competent in labelling procedures and the placing of specimens in appropriate containers during an autopsy. Before the specimens leave the mortuary labels should be double-checked against the body tag to ensure their integrity.

    7.4 Chain of Custody

    All staff involved in forensic autopsies should be aware of the documented procedures essential for ensuring that the legal continuity of specimens is maintained. The chain of custody should be clearly documented and every specimen, exhibit, and written report should be traceable to a particular staff member at all times.

    7.5 Dignity of the Deceased

    Mortuary staff should respect the dignity of the deceased person at all times. It is unacceptable, for example, for deceased persons to be left naked on trolleys without covering in the cold store or while being transported to the post- mortem theatre.