What are the universal precautions for gloves and protective coverings during at high-risk autopsy?

Updated: May 20, 2019
  • Author: Jeffrey S Nine, MD; Chief Editor: Kim A Collins, MD, FCAP  more...
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Frequent changing of the outer gloves is commonly recommended. Cut-resistant stainless steel mesh or fabric gloves are sometimes recommended [5] : These protect against scalpel injury but not against needle puncture. However, because such gloves reduce tactile sensation, some pathologists find them cumbersome. [6] Latex gloves that are available in supermarkets and that are designed to protect the hands during dishwashing or cleaning are much thicker than surgical gloves or examination gloves. These gloves can represent a compromise between cut-resistant "chain mail" gloves and regular hospital rubber gloves, but they are unsuitable for persons who have an allergy to latex.

In general, anyone in the autopsy room who may come in contact with blood, body fluid(s), or tissue should wear disposable protective "rubber" gloves. Any surface of the body that might come in contact with blood or body fluid(s) should be protected by impervious material (eg, a plastic apron). Face protection should be worn when there is a possibility of splashing or splattering of blood or body fluid(s). A mask is worn to prevent inhalation of aerosols; a face shield is worn to protect the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and mouth from exposure to splash. The high-risk infections transmitted by aerosols are tuberculosis, rabies, viral hemorrhagic fever, anthrax, and plague; HIV is not transmitted by aerosols. [6]

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