If your organization generates medical waste, you are responsible for ensuring that the medical waste is disposed of in proper and legal methods. Known as “cradle-to-grave,” the accountability doesn’t end when you have a waste management company pick up the waste. This level of responsibility is to make sure that medical waste is handled and disposed of according to local, state, and federal guidelines. Once you see the waste loaded on a truck for removal, it makes perfect sense to find out what happens to it from that point forward. An organization that generates medical waste carries the responsibility to know that all waste has been disposed of.
There are a few different types of medical waste, and each one has its own rules for disposal. A good waste management disposal company will follow through with each level of compliance.
The EPA defines medical waste as a “subset of wastes generated at health care facilities, such as hospitals, physicians’ offices, dental practices, blood banks, and veterinary hospitals/clinics, as well as medical research facilities and laboratories.” A general explanation of medical waste can include anything that could be contaminated by body fluids, blood, or other materials that could potentially be infectious. These items are known as RMW (Regulated Medical Waste).
All medical waste that is placed in a red bag is required to be processed through medical waste autoclaves prior to being passed into a landfill. The autoclave is a machine that makes use of steam that is heated to 300 degrees and acts as a sterilization process. The autoclave is a required by law and kills any germs that may be found on items that might be contaminated by blood.
This type of medical waste is required by law to be incinerated. Trace chemotherapy waste is separated into designated containers so that when the waste management company picks them up they can transport the containers to the incineration facility for processing. Incineration insures that there are no longer any health risks involved in the materials.
Similar to chemotherapy waste, pathological waste is required to be processed by incineration. Pathological waste includes any human or animals body parts. This type of waste is separated so that the waste management company can identify and dispose of properly. Through the use of high temperatures, the waste is reduced to ash or sometimes nearly ash, that will no longer contain anything harmful.
Since every organization that generates medical waste carries the responsibility of waste disposal compliance, they are also accountable for organizing and segregating the waste for the medical waste disposal company as well as maintaining records for disposal transactions. Waste management companies will provide a certificate of destruction upon request which validates that the medical waste was processed according to law without any issues. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) can require that any organization processing medical waste provide a variety of documents and they will levy heavy financial fines upon any that cannot produce the documents.
Parent page – Medical Waste Disposal
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