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Postmortem microbiology sampling following death in hospital: an ESGFOR task force consensus statement
  1. Julian L Burton1,
  2. Veroniek Saegeman2,
  3. Ana Arribi3,
  4. Jordi Rello4,
  5. Laurent Andreoletti5,
  6. Marta C Cohen6,
  7. Amparo Fernandez-Rodriguez7
  8. On behalf of ESGFOR Joint Working Group of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID) Study Group of Forensic and Postmortem Microbiology and the European Society of Pathology.
  1. 1 Academic Unit of Medical Education, University of Sheffield Medical School, Sheffield, UK
  2. 2 Clinical Laboratory, University Hospitals Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  3. 3 Microbiology Department, Hospital Clínico Universitario San Carlos, Madrid, Spain
  4. 4 CIBERES and Vall d’Hebron Institute of Research, Barcelona, Spain
  5. 5 Molecular and Clinical Virology Department, University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, Reims, France
  6. 6 Histopathology Department, Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK
  7. 7 Microbiology Laboratory, Biology Department, Instituto Nacional de Toxicología y Ciencias Forenses, Las Rozas, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Dr Julian L Burton, Academic Unit of Medical Education, University of Sheffield Medical School, Sheffield S10 2RX, UK; j.l.burton{at}


Postmortem microbiology (PMM) is a valuable tool in the identification of the cause of death and of factors contributory to death where death has been caused by infection. The value of PMM is dependent on careful autopsy planning, appropriate sampling, minimisation of postmortem bacterial translocation and avoidance of sample contamination. Interpretation of PMM results requires careful consideration in light of the clinical history, macroscopic findings and the histological appearances of the tissues. This consensus statement aims to highlight the importance of PMM in the hospital setting and to give microbiological and pathological advice on sampling in deaths occurring in hospital.

  • autopsy
  • postmortem
  • microbiology
  • virology

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  • Handling editor Tony Mazzulli.

  • Contributors This submission is the result of a collaborative writing project and all authors have contributed to the writing and redrafting of the article.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.