Hospital Medical Waste. Hospitals are the largest generators of medical waste in the country, creating 5.9 million tons of medical waste annually. Given that there are a variety of local, state, and federal compliance laws and guidelines that must be followed, medical waste presents a huge challenge for hospitals.
The laws are there to assure that staff are all trained to understand safety protocols, medical waste is disposed of properly, containers are labeled and identified for appropriate disposal, and that all medical waste is rendered harmless from the potential transmission of diseases to humans, animals, and the environment.
All organizations and companies that generate medical waste must comply with the “cradle-to-grave” laws of compliance. This means that the generator is ultimately responsible for all aspects of the medical waste, from start to confirmation of destruction, even when the medical waste is removed from their location. Compliance is only slightly different in some states, and all require all documentation for pickup, transport, and/or destruction of the medical waste.
The general algorithm used to predict the amount of medical waste generated by a hospital is: 33 lbs. per staffed hospital bed, per day. The sheer volume of medical waste for any size hospital can create a dangerous condition if the waste is not disposed of in a timely manner. Various states have specific compliance guidelines on the volume of medical waste allowed to be stored.
Hospital administration is responsible for ensuring that all laws and complied with but it is also the responsibility of each department to make sure that hospital personnel are trained, the medical waste is stored and labeled according to state laws, and that appropriate disposal occurs to render the medical waste harmless. In some cases, hospitals have onsite autoclaving facilities. These facilities are regulated by state and federal laws and require licensed and trained staff for operation. This may be a cost-effective solution for some of the largest hospitals but it may not be the correct choice for small to midsize hospitals. The decision for having onsite facilities for medical waste destruction versus hiring a licensed and trained medical waste disposal company is dependent upon the volume of medical waste generated and the individual state laws governing the amount of time and volume of medical waste that can be left at the hospital site prior to disposal.
A majority of hospitals make use of a medical waste disposal company for their medical waste needs. The benefits typically outweigh the high costs of having an in-house facility that incorporates trained and licensed staff, accelerated guidelines for cleaning and sterilization of facilities, audits and inspections, and facility documentation supplied to local, state, and federal organizations. It goes without saying that having an in-house facility is like having an entirely different company within the hospital area and also requires additional administrative staff to comply with the strict reporting guidelines.
Hiring a full-service medical waste disposal company that is licensed, trained and certified brings benefits to hospitals of all sizes. It removes internal costs of staff, facilities, inspections and audits, while streamlining the paper trail. A full service medical waste removal company will have their own employees and drivers, company-owned trucks/vehicles, and own their own medical waste disposal facilities. This type of medical waste disposal company is invested in their business and eliminates any middle companies that could elevate costs while adding potential errors for final disposal. A full-service company will also coordinate pickups at the scheduled convenience of the hospital to avoid a large volume of waste remaining on the grounds.
Additional considerations that can be cost-saving with a full-service medical waste disposal company include staff training for medical waste handling, safety and storage as well as services such as document disposal. These can eliminate the need for the training and licensing of additional in-house staff and the devices and time needed for document disposal to comply with HIPAA guidelines and protect proprietary information.
In balancing costs, time, and compliance, most hospitals make the choice of using a full-service medical waste disposal company.
There are a number of different options when talking to organizations that say they are medical waste disposal companies, and being educated on what they do and offer will reduce confusion and ultimately save money. This is an important aspect as the generator has full responsibility in the cradle-to-grave philosophy, and choosing the wrong medical waste company could lead to lack of compliance, fees and fines.
The best medical waste disposal companies will also offer additional services such as staff/employee safety training that complies with OSHA standards and HIPAA protection with document destruction.
There are four main types of medical waste disposal companies and identifying/confirming what they do and their responsibilities is critical:
There are four major types of companies involved in the medical waste disposal industry. It’s a priority to identify and know what each company does and the services that they offer.
A lead generator is a type of representative that uses the healthcare facility as a “lead” and then passes all of the details to another organization that bids on the lead. These individuals have nothing to do with being directly involved the service of your medical waste disposal, they are just selling your information to the highest bidder. If after your first contact, you get passed off to another company there is a good chance your first contact was with a lead generator.
A broker is another type of company they will sign a contract with the healthcare organization and this includes collecting your data and receiving payment, however they in turn hire out to a third party company to do the actual work of medical waste collection, transport, and often another company for treatment, and ultimate disposal. In other words, somebody else will show up with their trucks that you are unfamiliar with. There could be as many as two or three companies involved in your medical waste disposal.
Haulers are medical waste companies that have and service your contract and typically have their own W2 employees. You usually see their company name on the trucks and employee shirts. The main difference between a hauler and a medical waste management company is the hauler just picks up your waste and hauls it to a destruction plant, they do not own, thus the nick-name, they ‘haul’ your waste from the generator to the destruction company.
Medical waste management companies are responsible and accountable for all levels of the medical waste including pickup, transport, treatment to render the waste harmless, and disposal in a safe manner. They hold the contract directly with the generator, receive the payments, and are responsible for all documents required to prove the medical waste taken care of by law.
Full Service medical waste disposal companies are completely invested in their company including: having their own W2 staff and drivers, own their own trucks, and have company owned facilities for the destruction of the medical waste. In this case, there are no middle companies that often increase the cost of the service. While both standard and full service medical waste disposal companies, such as Healthcare Waste Management, stay up-to-date on all changes in laws and guidelines, full service companies have devoted their entire business on maintaining the integrity of this information and infrastructure. A full service medical waste disposal company will also be constantly changing to add the latest technologies as well as making use of such things as reusable containers to reduce the carbon footprint.
We service 10 states in the Midwest and are continuing to expand. Each of our facilities is staffed by licensed, trained professionals that specialize in the states that we do business. We have destruction facilities strategically located in the Midwest to provide our clients with the most cost-effective services.
We are fully invested in our organization with our own employees, trucks/vehicles, drivers, and destruction facilities. Our investment into our infrastructure means that we can cost effectively take care of all of your hospital waste disposal needs. We work with you around your pickup schedule, while also offering the additional benefits such as technology advantages and ecologically conscientious containers. We are partnered with healthcare organizations of all sizes and they all look to Healthcare Waste Management for ease of service in a streamlined manner.
We take pride in being a full-service organization ensuring that the medical waste management is taken care of from start to finish.
Feel free to contact one of our friendly representatives today we are always happy to help and answer any questions you may have.
Join thousands of other practices working with HWM.
"The only company you will ever need."