Dispose of Medical Waste Safely, With the Right Company. Some common names for medical waste include, regulated medical waste, infectious waste, infectious medical waste, biomedical waste, biohazard waste, and sharps waste. It may surprise you to find out there is not a universal name used in the United States for medical waste and to go even further there is not a universal definition of medical waste. Since each state governs its own regulations for medical waste, there are many names and definitions in use across the U.S.
Generally speaking, medical or infectious waste is waste that poses a threat to the environment, animals, or human health. It can be anything from contaminated needles and syringes, to used bandages and surgical gloves, to animal carcasses from lab experiments. Medical waste management is an important process in any facility that generates medical waste. Generators have specific local, state, and federal guidelines on how to, handle, store, transport, and dispose of their medical waste generated in order to stay in compliance.
But it doesn’t end there: improper disposal of medical waste can contaminate the land and water supply, put you at risk for diseases like Hepatitis C or HIV/AIDS, and impact your bottom line with expensive fines. Therefore, it is important to choose an established, experienced, medical waste management company that understands the regulations in your area.
The first step to disposing of medical waste is determining what type of waste it is, proper segregation of regulated waste is the first step to avoiding fines for improper disposal.
There are many types of medical waste, and they may require different treatment methods to make the waste non-infectious. it is important to follow the specific state, federal and local regulations for the type of medical waste your facility generates. Always check with a professional company like Healthcare Waste Management or your state EPA for current regulations regarding medical waste treatment and disposal processes, the below is a general guideline but your specific state regulations may differ.
Sharps Waste – Strict hospital protocols and government regulations that instruct health care providers on how to manage sharps waste help ensure that the waste is handled as effectively and safely as possible. Extreme care must be taken in the management and disposal of sharps waste. The goal in sharps waste management is to safely handle all materials until they can be properly disposed of. The final step in the disposal of sharps waste is to treat them in an autoclave.
Biohazard Waste – The goals of biohazard waste treatment are to reduce or eliminate the waste’s hazards, and usually to make the waste unrecognizable. Treatment should render the waste safe for subsequent handling and disposal. There are several treatment methods that can accomplish these goals.
An autoclave may also be used to treat biohazard waste. An autoclave uses steam and pressure to sterilize the waste or reduce its microbiological load to a level at which it may be safely disposed of.
Microwave disinfection can also be employed for treatment of biohazard wastes. Microwave irradiation is a type of non-contact heating technologies for disinfection.
For autoclaves and microwave systems, a shredder may be used as a final treatment step to render the waste unrecognizable. Some autoclaves have built in shredders.
Pharmaceutical Waste – For non-hazardous, non-controlled pharmaceuticals, EPA recommends that health care facilities send the pharmaceuticals to a reverse distributor for potential credit and proper disposal. Nonhazardous pharmaceutical waste should not be sewered, but rather should be incinerated in a solid waste incinerator, in accordance with all state and/or local environmental regulations.
RCRA Hazardous Waste – Hazardous Waste is sent to a HW TSDF (Hazardous Waste – Treatment Storage and Disposal Facility). The hazardous waste depending on its composition could be treated to include incineration (waste-to-energy), pyrolysis, and isolated landfills used specifically for hazardous waste.
Dual Waste – Dual waste is just that waste because it is both infectious waste and hazardous waste. The term is a term-of-convenience dual waste to describe waste that simultaneously meets the definitions of both hazardous waste and infectious waste. You must manage dual waste in compliance with both hazardous and infectious waste requirements. Dual waste must be segregated from other waste types usually using purple containers.
Trace Chemotherapy Waste – Trace Chemotherapy waste is chemo waste that has less than 3% remaining in the vials, tubes, etc. Bulk chemo waste is greater than 3% remaining. For trace Chemo Incineration is usually the most appropriate type of treatment but treatment options do vary from state to state.
Facilities must follow strict guidelines on how to dispose of their regulated medical waste in order to stay compliant and avoid costly fines and penalties.
Bloodborne Pathogens (BBP)
Disposing of contaminated waste in the wrong trash receptacle can lead to a wide spread of infection. All employees with risk of exposure to medical waste that may contain BBPs are required to take this course. They will learn about proper management of sharps, how to develop a comprehensive exposure control plan, disposal of RMW and more.
D.O.T. Hazardous Materials Transportation Regulations (HM-181)
Your responsibility for your medical waste does not stop once it leaves your building. You must make sure that the medical waste service providers you work with are properly insured, permitted, and licensed. This DOT course will provide coverage of the necessary rules that apply to transporters to decrease your medical facility’s risk.
Waste Handling and Classification Regulations
State and federal guidelines must always be strictly followed to maintain compliance. But this can be easier said than done as regulations can change frequently and quickly. Your facility’s compliance point person or anyone with exposure to RMW should take this course to learn proper medical waste plan preparation, packaging, and labeling.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
HIPAA can be confusing, so it is important that anyone on your staff that comes into contact with protected health information take this course, where they will learn how to design, implement, and administer a compliance program.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Wearing the proper personal protective equipment helps employees minimize exposure to hazardous waste that may cause serious illness or injury. This training, which is required by OSHA, covers the various types of PPE and how they are meant to be used to prevent exposure. This course should be taken by anyone with exposure to potentially infectious diseases, as well as any healthcare worker within your organization that comes in direct contact with patients.
If not properly controlled, ionizing radiation can pose a serious risk to healthcare workers. This course covers regulations and safety requirements for imaging standards for ionizing radiation, radioactive materials, and the use of X-Ray equipment. If your facility uses radiation, all employees must understand the proper protection standards.
Pharmaceutical Waste Identification, Segregation and Disposal
To meet state and federal regulations, your facility or practice’s pharmaceutical waste must be disposed of properly. This waste includes drugs that are expired, unused or contaminated. This course, which covers the RCRA, classification of pharmaceuticals and more, should be taken by any pharmacy personnel or anyone signing a hazardous waste manifest.
If you have any questions about medical waste training, get in touch with us. We give healthcare organizations peace of mind by helping them remain compliant.
When medical waste isn’t handled or disposed of properly, it could potentially be a threat to our public health. Certain wastes, like bodily fluid or syringes, can spread dangerous bloodborne pathogen diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. People who come in contact with the contaminated waste could then infect others as well. If you work in a setting that exposes you to bloodborne pathogens, always use the proper personal protection equipment for the task at hand and immediately dispose of medical waste at the point of generation.
If you are a home user of sharps, never discard sharps in the regular trash or leave needles laying around (inside or outside) where they could potentially injure others.
Medical Waste Can Damage the Environment
Medical waste has a negative impact on the environment because of how people handle it. It can contaminate soil and water. Also, it can be harmful to the plants and animals that depend on those plants and animals for their survival.
Medical Waste Contaminates Our Water Supply
There is a growing concern about the occurrence of pharmaceuticals in water bodies and in drinking water. Pharmaceuticals get into the water supply via human excretion and by drugs being flushed down the toilet. You might think wastewater treatment plants would take care of the situation, but pharmaceuticals pass through water treatment.
Medical Waste Exposes Us to Risk
All individuals exposed to medical waste are potentially at risk, including those within health-care establishments that generate medical waste, and those outside these sources who either handle such waste or are exposed to it because of careless management.
Medical Waste Creates Air Pollution
Around 1997 public concerns about incinerator emissions, as well as the creation of federal regulations for medical waste incinerators, caused many health care facilities to rethink their choices in medical waste treatment. Healthcare after all should not be the source of health concerns.
As stated by Health Care Without Harm, non-incineration treatment technologies are a growing and developing field. Most medical waste used to be incinerated, a practice that today should only be used when required by law, because of environmental considerations.
The burning of solid and regulated medical waste generated by health care created many problems. The medical waste incinerators of the past emitted toxic air pollutants and toxic ash residues that are the major source of dioxins in the environment.
International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of WHO, acknowledged dioxins cancer causing potential and classified it as human carcinogen. Development of waste management policies, careful waste segregation and training programs, as well as attention to materials purchased, are essential in minimizing the environmental and health impacts.
Medical waste can pose a variety of threats to human health. Improper handling or disposal of medical waste poses the risk of spreading diseases like Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, and more.
Medical Waste is most dangerous at the generation points and creates the greatest risk to healthcare workers diagnosing, treating, or handling potentially infectious materials.
After the medical waste is generated and placed in the appropriate container, the staff that moves the medical waste to storage rooms from the generation points for treatment is in the next risk category.
Unsanitary conditions at clinics can spread infectious diseases to patients and staff alike. Contaminated needles not properly handled are especially hazardous. Even if they are disposed of properly, there’s still a chance that some cross contamination happened if not properly handled.
There are many other scenarios that could also cause unsanitary conditions like, accidental blood loss that was not immediately noticed, blood-soaked items contaminate a floor or counter surface and is not properly disinfected.
Improper disposal, storage and handling can all cause threats to human health.
The best option is to lean on and hire an experienced professional medical waste disposal company that has their own treatment plant, like, Healthcare Waste Management.
A medical waste disposal company that owns their own medical waste treatment plant must stay up on the latest regulations for all medical waste categories listed above. Should you have any questions or would like a quote on your medical waste disposal needs call Healthcare Waste Management at 888-427-5797 today!
By having one company handle your waste from ‘cradle-to-grave’ allows us to bring our customers, the best process, products, and services with significant savings compared to the industry standard pricing. We do this while reducing our client’s impact on the environment which is a true win-win. Best processes, pricing and practices is what we built our company on.
Our commitment to our customers and the environment doesn’t stop with our cradle-to-grave management of your medical waste.
We use a state-of-the-art reusable container system for medical waste and sharps waste that keeps unnecessary waste from impacting the environment.
Our cradle-to-grave management process, reusable medical waste and sharps disposal containers, fuel efficient trucks and intelligent routing are all examples of our commitment to our customers and the environment.
Let us become your partner in all your disposal needs, medical waste is our business. We are not just hauling it; we treat most of your medical waste in our own processing plants. Medical Waste treatment plants must understand and follow more regulations than a company that simply transports your waste from point A to B. Contact us today for a free quote or with any questions pertaining to your medical waste, compliance training, or document destruction needs at 888-427-5797.
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