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3 Stages of Medical Waste Disposal

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How to Dispose of Medical Waste.
The healthcare industry in the U.S. generated 11.77 billion pounds of medical waste in 2018 with the anticipated 17.89 billion pounds by 2026.

  1. Segregating and Collecting Medical Waste

    Segregating medical waste is the first critical step and needs to be done where the medical waste is generated. Identifying the various types of biomedical waste assists in the segregation process.

  2. Storing Medical Waste

    Proper storage of medical waste containers means that the containers must be kept away from access by anyone other than approved staff and the medical waste management company.

  3. Transporting of Medical Waste

    Transporting of the medical waste containers should be done by a professional medical waste management company. Their staff will have access to the storage area and transport the medical waste for destruction/disposal.

  4. Treating and Disposing of Medical Waste

    Decontamination processes can include autoclaving, chemical or biological treatments, and irradiation.

3 Stages of Medical Waste Disposal

The healthcare industry in the U.S. generated 11.77 billion pounds of medical waste in 2018 with the anticipated 17.89 billion pounds by 2026 may be altered due to COVID-19.  According to WHO (World Health Organization):

“Of the total amount of waste generated by health-care activities, about 85% is general, non-hazardous waste.

The remaining 15% is considered hazardous material that may be infectious, toxic or radioactive.”

To ensure that medical waste doesn’t transmit infectious diseases to people, animals, or the environment, sound waste management disposal actions have been set in place by local, state, and federal governments and agencies. Additional steps are taken by OHSA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) for the training of healthcare staff for their safety and the safety of patients, including best practices.

Segregating and Collecting Medical Waste

Segregating medical waste is the first critical step and needs to be done where the medical waste is generated. Identifying the various types of biomedical waste assists in the segregation process. There are typically eight categories of biomedical waste that staff needs to be aware of for segregation:

Each waste type must be separated and placed in the appropriate containers using safe practices to ensure that there isn’t a risk of contamination or infection. It’s critical to use the right containers for each type of waste so that storage, collection, and transport can be done safely.  All containers are identified with the universal biohazard label on the outside. The most common containers used for segregation include:

Collection of each container is typically done by a professional, licensed, and trained medical waste management company.

The Storing and Transporting of Medical Waste

Proper storage of medical waste containers means that the containers must be kept away from access by anyone other than approved staff and the medical waste management company. Medical waste should never be placed in areas where there is the potential for spillage or falling as well as traffic from staff or patients. Containers should also be kept in areas with a stable temperature and safe from bugs or rodents.

Transporting of the medical waste containers should be done by a professional medical waste management company. Their staff will have access to the storage area and transport the medical waste for destruction/disposal. In the case of onsite incineration or autoclaving, only authorized and trained personnel can transport the medical waste for destruction.

Treating and Disposing of Medical Waste

Those that generate medical waste are responsible in a term referred to as “cradle to grave.” This means that they are held accountable for all steps of appropriate handling, segregation, containment, transportation, and final treatment of the medical waste so that it is rendered harmless. There are a few ways of treating medical waste based on the type of waste. Most medical facilities make use of a professional medical waste management company that can transport and treat the waste to comply with laws and guidelines. Decontamination processes can include autoclaving, chemical or biological treatments, and irradiation.

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