2012 South Carolina Code of Laws
Title 44 - Health
Chapter 4 - EMERGENCY HEALTH POWERS
Section 44-4-320 - Powers and duties regarding safe disposal of human remains.


SC Code § 44-4-320 (2012) What's This?

(A) DHEC must coordinate with coroners, medical examiners, and funeral directors, for such period as the state of public health emergency exists, to exercise, in addition to existing powers, the following powers regarding the safe disposal of human remains:

(1) to take possession or control of any human remains which cannot be safely handled otherwise;

(2) to order the disposal of human remains of a person who has died of an infectious disease through burial or cremation within twenty-four hours after death;

(3) to require any business or facility authorized to embalm, bury, cremate, inter, disinter, transport, and dispose of human remains under the laws of this State to accept any human remains or provide the use of its business or facility if these actions are reasonable and necessary for emergency response. When necessary during the period of time of the public health emergency, DHEC must coordinate with the business or facility on the management or supervision of the business or facility; and

(4) to procure, by order or otherwise, any business or facility authorized to embalm, bury, cremate, inter, disinter, transport, and dispose of human remains under the laws of this State as may be reasonable and necessary for emergency response, with the right to take immediate possession thereof.

(B) Where possible, existing provisions set forth in the State Emergency Operations Plan for the safe disposal of human remains must be used in a public health emergency. Where the State Emergency Operations Plan is not sufficient to handle the safe disposal of human remains for a public health emergency, DHEC, in coordination with coroners, medical examiners, and funeral directors, must adopt and enforce measures to provide for the safe disposal of human remains as may be reasonable and necessary for emergency response. These measures may be related to procedures including, but not limited to, death certificates, autopsies, embalming, burial, cremation, interment, disinterment, transportation, and disposal of human remains.

(C) All human remains prior to disposal must be clearly labeled with all available information to identify the decedent and the circumstances of death. Any human remains of a deceased person with an infectious disease must have an external, clearly visible tag indicating that the human remains are infected and, if known, the infectious disease.

(D) Every person in charge of disposing of any human remains must maintain a written record of each set of human remains and all available information to identify the decedent and the circumstances of death and disposal. If the human remains cannot be identified, prior to disposal, a qualified person must, to the extent possible, take fingerprints and one or more photographs of the human remains, and collect a DNA specimen. All information gathered under this paragraph must be promptly forwarded to DHEC. Identification must be handled by the agencies that have laboratories suitable for DNA identification.

HISTORY: 2002 Act No. 339, Section 24, eff July 2, 2002; 2008 Act No. 341, Section 2, eff June 11, 2008.

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