Medical Waste Disposal for Nursing Homes
Medical Waste Disposal for Nursing Homes
Any facility such as nursing homes, extended care, rehabilitation locations, living areas for disabled individuals, and convalescent homes have patients/residents that are staying for long periods of times. These facilities differ from shorter term places such as hospitals, and typically have nurses as the largest number of staff members. Medical care in these locations is often not as complicated as you will find in hospitals, but given the potential of disease states, biohazardous waste can be generated. Most facilities if this type contract with a licensed, trained, and professional medical waste management company to ensure that all of the waste is disposed of using the local, state, and federal guidelines for safety.
All staff at these types of facilities are required to be trained on the methods of segregating medical waste. While a majority of the waste is not hazardous, the remaining waste must be separated and treated as potentially infectious. Employees at any of these locations need to be aware of the correct methods of handling, separation, and disposal so that they can keep everyone safe.
Types of medical waste at Nursing Homes
- Sharps are considered to be any item that can pierce the skin and has been exposed to potentially infectious agents. These can include but are not limited to: hypodermic needles, blades, scalpels, broken glass, lancets, and pipettes. These must be handled carefully and segregated into special containers for sharps that are puncture-proof and leak proof. A licensed medical waste disposal company will remove the containers and use methods to decontaminate and render them harmless according to state and federal guidelines.
- Chemotherapy waste includes a chemotherapy medications. These pharmaceuticals are considered to be hazardous and any unused or expired medications are returned to the pharmacy, oncology clinic, or if the state has a mail back program, to state facilities for the destruction of the medications. Many medical waste disposal companies will take charge of proper disposal of this type of medication as long as they are separated and labeled.
- Radioactive waste is typically only found in these facilities when the patients are receiving some form of radiation therapy elsewhere. There are radioactive pellets that are common for cancer patients that are often given to patients as insertions as well as some orally taken radioactive materials. The radioactivity will be produced in urine and feces and these are typically collected, identified, and must follow standard medical waste disposal procedures for this type.
- RCRA (Hazardous waste) is any waste that is considered to be reactive, corrosive, flammable or toxic. As per U.S. Federal law, this type of waste must be maintained, treated, and disposed of so that it is rendered as harmless. Most nursing homes and facilities of this type are classified as “Small Quantity Generators” for RCRA and many states have specific guidelines for disposal which are only slightly less restrictive as the larger generators. Medical waste disposal companies will pick up hazardous waste as long as it is labeled and contained according to local, state, and federal guidelines.
- Biohazardous waste is considered to be any biological or infectious waste that could potentially transmit disease to people, animals, the community, or the environment. All materials that are biohazardous waste must be handled, labeled, and stored in containers for pickup and proper disposal by a medical waste disposal company. Staff must be trained on all precautions needed to ensure that infectious waste in contained.
- Pathological waste is waste that any item that has been sourced from an individual such as anatomical waste, body parts, etc. While this is not typically found in extended care and nursing home facilities, they are responsible for ensuring that any pathological waste such as those from accidents or deaths are dealt with according to local, state, and federal guidelines.
These types of longer term facilities typically hire medical waste disposal contractors to coordinate pickup and legal disposal of any form of medical waste. Even though they are considered to be small quantity generators they are required by law to have all staff trained for handling and disposal of all medical waste types.
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