- What would Kay Scarpetta do?
Doctor Kay Scarpetta, who was created by author Patricia Cornwell, is possibly the world's most famous fictional medical examiner. Scarpetta is a stickler for rules in her famous crime novels, and she's very intense about having a spotless working area for her autopsies. In fact, Scarpetta, who always scrubs up and forbids chewing gum and eating in her operating room, knows all of the dangerous germs and bodily fluids a corpse can harbour. Some of Cornwell's most impressive works of fiction, such as The Body Farm and The Last Precinct, offer detailed looks at how a post-mortem examination is done - from masking up to preparing the body for viewing by friends and family.
- Learning more
To learn more about post-mortems and the rules of hygiene for these medical procedures, consider doing a little Internet research about the duties of a medical examiner. By studying the job description, you'll discover a lot of interesting facts about how germs and pathogens can "survive" death and infect a doctor. However, with many of today's high-tech lab coats, masks and gloves, the threat of disease is much lower than it's been in the past.
A medical examiner needs to protect him or herself from being contaminated while working on a body. Since post-mortems require saws and other tools that may spray blood and bone dust, it's important to stay as clean as possible.