Autopsy not must to certify heat-related deaths: NCDC | India News

NEW DELHI: The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said autopsy is not mandatory to certify heat-related deaths.
In its guideline released recently on heat-related deaths, the govt agency has stated that the diagnosis of hyperthermia – abnormally high body temperature – is mostly dependent on the scene investigation, the circumstances of death, and the reasonable exclusion of alternative causes of death.
According to the NCDC guideline, heat-related death is defined as a death in which exposure to high ambient temperature either caused the death or significantly contributed to it. For example, the guideline suggests, a death should be certified as heat stroke or hyperthermia if the body temperature of the deceased was =105°F (=40.6°C) just before she or he died.
Deaths may also be certified as heat stroke or hyperthermia with lower body temperatures when cooling has been attempted prior to arrival at the hospital and/or when there is a clinical history of mental status changes and elevated liver and muscle enzymes, the NCDC says. “In cases where the antemortem (before death) body temperature cannot be established but the environmental temperature at the time of collapse was high, an appropriate heat-related diagnosis should be listed as the cause of death or as a significant contributing condition,” it adds.
In case clinical diagnosis is not available, the NCDC says, a death can be attributed to heat stroke or heat-related death if the investigation provides compelling evidence of continuous exposure to a hot environment and fails to identify an independent cause of death. A significant number of such deaths may occur in persons having some pre-existing disease known to be exacerbated by heat stress.
The govt agency says these deaths can be certified as heat-related, with the disease being considered a significant contributing condition or vice versa.
“There have been complaints in the past of underreporting of heat-related deaths due to insistence on autopsy findings to prove the same. The new guidelines ease the criteria and, thus, aim to make the data collection more accurate,” said an official.
New global projections published by The Lancet last year claim that the world is likely to experience a 4.7-fold increase in heat-related deaths by mid-century. According to the Lancet report, in 2022, individuals were, on average, exposed to 86 days of health-threatening high temperatures, of which 60% were made at least twice as likely to occur because of human-caused climate change. The researchers have blamed the “negligence” of governments, companies, and banks who continue investing in oil and gas for the crisis.
“Our health stocktake reveals that the growing hazards of climate change are costing lives and livelihoods worldwide today. Projections of a 2°C hotter world reveal a dangerous future and are a grim reminder that the pace and scale of mitigation efforts seen so far have been woefully inadequate to safeguard people’s health and safety”, Dr Marina Romanello, Executive Director of the Lancet Countdown at University College London said. She added: “With 1,337 tonnes of carbon dioxide still emitted every second, we aren’t reducing emissions anywhere near fast enough to keep climate hazards within the levels that our health systems can cope with. There is an enormous human cost to inaction, and we can’t afford this level of disengagement – we are paying in lives. Every moment we delay makes the path to a liveable future more difficult and adaptation increasingly costly and challenging.”

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