March 24, 2020

Question: Does aspiration of a deceased create aerosolization of the COVID-19 virus and should this be handled in a different way?

Answer: Aspiration can very easily cause aerosolization depending on the equipment used and setup you have at your facility. Ideally you have a system that automatically “feeds the drain.” This means that the waste isn’t discarded into a commode/toilet or open sink, but instead the discharge tube feeds directly into the drain and out-of-sight, which is the ideal setup. I recommend running water into the closed drain while aspirating to prevent any back splashing that may occur from the drain.

If you do use a commode/toilet as your discharge point, then cover the area up with something that can be discarded or sanitized after each use. Another suggestion to reduce the risk of any aerosolization coming from the aspiration procedure is to place a cloth which has been soaked in a disinfectant around the aspiration point to reduce any splashing or spraying from the site.

Currently, there are several experts that are recommending to either delay aspiration or not aspirate at all. These suggested practices do offer some positive benefits, and you may want to consider them as they can help further limit aerosolization, as well potentially allowing the virus to die before potential exposure. In general, it is important to be extra smart and think of how you can prevent droplet or aerosolization throughout the aspiration and embalming procedure.