Medical Waste Disposal for Long Term Care Clinics
Long term care facilities can include such locations as skilled nursing homes, rehabilitation clinics, assisted living facilities, hospice, and senior living communities. Many of the individuals that are within these locations can suffer from debilitating disease states and may be receiving treatments that can be hazardous to others. Medical staff caring for patients in long term care clinics are required to take all precautions to eliminate contamination of all hazardous wastes to protect the staff, the patients, visitors, the community, and the environment. Long term care clinics are required to comply with local, state, and federal guidelines and laws on the proper handling, storage, labeling, and removal of all medical waste, in the same way as hospitals and other medical locations.
Types of Medical waste At Long Term Care Clinics
Medical waste is any type of waste that may contain infectious or potentially infectious materials that can harm people, the community and the environment. Long term care facilities have patients that are often suffering from a variety of diseases and treatments and are required to comply with and retain constant updates on the required methods of protection, storage, and disposal of medical waste. Most long term care clinics hire licensed and professional medical waste disposal companies that can ensure that the medical waste is taken care of in compliance with all laws.
- Sharps are any item that has been exposed to potentially infectious tissues or bodily fluids that can pierce the skin. There are designated handling, storage and disposal methods for sharps against any/all contaminants. Sharps can include but are not limited to knives, scalpels, hypodermic needles, broken glass, certain plastics, lancets, pipettes, and razors.
- Biohazard waste are a specific subset of medical waste that can include but are not limited to: human specimen cultures from pathology and medical labs, cultures that include an infectious agents such as mold, parasites, viruses, and microorganisms, discarded vaccines, devices that have been used to inoculate, transfer, and mix cultures; waste that contains bodily fluids and fluid blood products as well as the containers or equipment used to hold the fluids.
- Red Bag waste is designated by the use of a “red bag” that is labeled with the biohazard logo. Red bag waste contains items that are potentially infectious and can include but are not limited to: bandages, gauze, blood soaked items, anything that contains dried blood or other bodily fluids, specimen cups, gowns, gloves, intravenous bags, PPE (personal protective equipment), soft plastic items, and table paper.
- Medications/Pharmaceuticals are very common in the long term care environment as patients are often on a litany of both static and changing medications. Medications that have expired or are unused must be disposed of according to the local, state, and federal laws and should never be placed in a location that will allow it to enter the water waste system.
- General infectious waste is anything that is exposed to a potential contaminant that could transmit infection to people, the community, or the environment. These can include any standard medical items that may be exposed as well as such items as internal air and water filters, food preparation areas, cabinets, and storage areas.
Due to the often volatile condition of many of the patients in long term care, proper handling, storage and disposal of medical waste is a high priority so that there is no transmission of contaminants. All long term care staff is required to be educated on all local, state, and federal guidelines for identifying medical waste and in handling and storage rules.
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