Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Executive Deputy EditorIndividualAuthor
To the Editor: Dr Inglesby and colleagues1 recommend that aerosol-generating autopsies (essentially
all autopsies) performed on individuals who have died of plague should be
conducted in negative-pressure rooms by prosectors wearing high-efficiency
particulate air–filtered respirators. However, their recommendation
points to a major limitation in our national autopsy infrastructure. Deaths
from known bioterrorist events are classified as homicides and therefore fall
under the jurisdiction of medical examiners and coroners, who would investigate
these deaths and, unless overwhelmed by large numbers of fatalities, perform
autopsies of the bodies. Similarly, medical examiners or coroners might also
perform autopsies of individuals who die precipitously and unexpectedly from
a covert bioterrorist attack.
Nolte KB. Safety Precautions to Limit Exposure From Plague-Infected Patients. JAMA. 2000;284(13):1648–1649. doi:10.1001/jama.284.13.1647
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