Human Tissue Authority

The regulator for human tissue and organs

Fridge and Freezer Storage

  • Establishments and organisations managing mortuary facilities should ensure that they have sufficient fridge and freezer storage capacity for their local needs.
    • This may mean working with other local organisations and agencies to ensure a shared understanding and collaborative approach to dealing with shortages.
  • Establishments should have procedures in place which govern the movement of bodies into freezer storage.
     
  • Capacity should be periodically reviewed to ensure that the risk of shortages is identified promptly.
    • Where capacity is considered a risk, consideration should be given to how to deal with this risk before it compromises service delivery and to whether capital expenditure is needed to increase capacity to mitigate risks to service delivery.
  • Establishments may wish to consider speaking with the Coroner to see if their funeral director can offer triage storage at times of peak demand, so only those community deaths that are confirmed for PM examination come to the establishment.
     
  • During this busy period it is advisable to follow up with funeral directors or family when a body has been in storage for over two weeks if there is no reason it cannot be released.

Storage of bariatric bodies

  • All establishments should ensure that they have suitable arrangements for the storage of bariatric bodies.
    • Establishments and organisations managing mortuary facilities should keep under review their capacity for the storage of bariatric bodies and build into their plans actions that might be taken to address an increased need.
  • Where alternative arrangements for the storage of bariatric bodies are used, establishments should ensure that they have robust, documented procedures for staff to follow in the event that these arrangements need to be implemented.
    • Staff should be trained in these procedures and thorough risk assessments undertaken.
    • The number of times that alternative arrangements are implemented for the storage of a bariatric body should be recorded and used to inform regular review of the suitability of storage capacity.
  • Where establishments rely on the transfer of bodies to other facilities for storage, they should ensure that they have robust procedures for transfer, including consideration of transfer of bodies out of working hours so that bodies are not stored inappropriately overnight or during weekends

Storage temperature monitoring

  • Establishments should ensure that they have robust temperature monitoring and alarm arrangements for all body storage facilities on their premises.
    • External temperature alarm systems provide an effective solution if they trigger both when storage temperatures are too warm and too cold, and are regularly tested.