Potentially Infectious Medical Waste General Requirements. Potentially infectious medical waste is also referred to as PIMW, and is any waste that has been generated in connection with:
These types of wastes are identified as any material or agent that may cause contamination to humans, animals, the community, or the environment. PIMW includes a wide variety of medical waste types and have been defined according to 33 USCS § 2502 (1), to include:
It should be noted that there are some medical wastes that are NOT considered to be potentially infectious and can include but are not limited to:
Most PIMW is generated by medical facilities such as hospital, doctor’s offices, dental offices, nursing homes, clinical laboratories, veterinary clinics, pharmaceutical laboratories, and research and university facilities However, there are some businesses that can generate PIMW including coroner’s offices, funeral homes, tattoo parlors, and body piercing facilities.
PIMW regulations for segregation is designated by dividing up into the three PIMW categories of sharps, oversized PIMW, and all other PIMW.
Each type of PIMW has a specific requirement that includes placing in containers that are leak-proof, puncture-resistant, and labeled with the universal biohazard symbol. In cases of fluids there are bags that are placed inside containers that are also labeled. Sharps have specific requirements to ensure the safety of staff against any accidents.
Most medical organizations make use of a medical waste disposal company that is educated on the local and state requirements as well as compliance with DOT (Department of Transportation) regulations. All medical waste containers are stored for access by the medical waste disposal company but is safely stored to avoid access by any unauthorized individuals. The medical waste disposal company will comply with the individual state laws regarding each PIMW type for treatment so that they are rendered harmless and ultimately disposed of safely.
Each state has guidelines that require that the generator of PIMW is to be held accountable for what is referred to as “cradle-to-grave” responsibility. This means that from the moment of generation to the final safe disposal, the generator must comply with all local, state, and federal laws which include ensuring that they have all documentation for treatment and safe disposal. These requirements are included whether they have onsite treatment and disposal or make use of a medical waste disposal company. There may be registrations and fees, depending upon state requirements, and the generator of the PIMW is responsible for keeping all documentation as well as individual state OSHA training for the protection of their staff and patients.
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