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Healthcare Waste Management Guidelines

September 15, 2021

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Healthcare Waste Management Guidelines

Healthcare Waste Management Guidelines. In this section we will cover all healthcare waste not just medical or biohazardous waste. Healthcare waste is defined as all waste produced by a medical facility, this includes regular solid waste

Regular non-infectious healthcare waste includes things like general office waste, packaging, waste you could find in any household or office setting. This non-infectious waste can be serviced by normal municipal waste contractors. This non-infectious regular waste can be sub-categorized into three main headings. Proper waste segregation is one of the most important aspects of managing any waste stream. 

Healthcare Waste Types

Non-Infectious Healthcare Waste

  1. Recyclable Waste
  2. Biodegradable Waste
  3. Other

Recycling Waste includes paper, cardboard, clean plastic or metal, glass, and cans.

Biodegradable Waste this is anything that can be composted left over food etc.

Other Waste is any other waste that does not pose a threat or danger to the public or environment and does not fall into recycling or biodegradable waste.

Biomedical Waste, Biohazard Waste, and Hazardous Waste

This waste can be broken down into five main categories some items have sub-categories. Those waste are.

  1. Human Anatomical Waste
  2. Sharps Waste
  3. Pharmaceutical Waste
    • Non-hazardous Pharmaceutical Waste
    • Potentially Hazardous Pharmaceutical Waste
    • Hazardous Pharmaceutical Waste
  4. Cytotoxic Pharmaceutical Waste
  5. Blood and Body Fluids

Human anatomical waste this waste includes non-infectious organs, tissues, blood bags, and body parts.

Sharps Waste sharps waste are items closely related to healthcare activities and can cause injury due to the punctures or cuts they can cause, potentially exposing someone to dangerous pathogens. This type of waste is one of the most hazardous waste generated in a healthcare setting due to its puncture and cut capabilities. Because of this, a sharps management and training program is essential for any healthcare facility.

Pharmaceutical Waste Pharmaceutical waste has three basic categories. Management of these categories requires specific collection and treatment process. It is important to understand that proper pharmaceutical identification is the key to a successful pharmaceutical waste disposal program.

  1. Non-hazardous Pharmaceutical Waste
  2. Potentially Hazardous Pharmaceutical Waste
  3. Hazardous Pharmaceutical Waste

Non-hazardous Pharmaceutical Waste this class includes pharmaceuticals such as tea or cough syrup that pose no hazard threat during, collection, intermediate storage, and waste management. They are not considered hazardous wastes and should be managed jointly with municipal waste.

Potentially Hazardous Pharmaceutical Waste this class embraces pharmaceuticals that pose a potential hazard when improperly used by an unauthorized person. They are considered as hazardous wastes and their management must take place with appropriate containers, collection, storage, and disposal processes.

Hazardous Pharmaceutical Waste this type of waste could be anything from heavy metals like mercury, to medications like warfarin. It is important to know the regulations to stay compliant with hazardous pharmaceutical waste segregation and disposal laws.

Cytotoxic Pharmaceutical Waste Cytotoxic Pharmaceutical Waste are waste that can be generated when administrating to patients. These chemical substances can be subdivided into six main groups: alkylated substances, antimetabolites, antibiotics, plant alkaloids, hormones, and others. A potential health risk to persons who handle cytotoxic pharmaceuticals results above all from the mutagenic, carcinogenic, and teratogenic properties of these substances. Consequently, these wastes pose a hazard, and the measures to be taken must also include those required by occupational health and safety provisions.

Blood and Bodily Fluids Waste This waste is to be assumed that it contains contaminated pathogens, this is not infectious waste as described below but it is waste that is contaminated with blood (human or animal), secretions, and excretions.

Infectious and Highly Infectious Waste

Managing infectious waste or highly infectious waste has special requirements. This is waste known or expected (based on experience) to be contaminated by causative agents of diseases and when contamination gives cause for the concern that the disease could spread.

Infectious Waste Some examples of Infectious waste are, blood from patients contaminated with HIV, viral hepatitis, brucellosis, Q fever. Feces from patients infected with typhoid fever, enteritis, cholera. Respiratory tract secretions from patients infected with TB, anthrax, rabies, poliomyelitis. Infectious waste is typically generated in isolation wards, dialysis wards, or centers caring for patients infected with hepatitis viruses.

Highly Infectious Waste Highly Infectious Waste is all microbiological cultures in which a multiplication of pathogens of any kind has occurred. This type of waste is typically generated in a laboratory type setting but can include medical practices as well. Examples of highly infectious waste include sputum cultures of TB laboratories, contaminated blood clots and glassware material generated in the medical analysis laboratories, high concentrated microbiological cultures carried out in medical analysis laboratories.

Other Hazardous Waste

This category of waste is not exclusive to the healthcare sector. It can include gaseous, liquid and solid chemicals, waste with high contents of heavy metals such as batteries, pressurized containers, fluorescent light bulbs, and more.

Chemical waste consists of discarded chemicals that are generated during disinfecting procedures or cleaning processes. Not all of them are hazardous but some have toxic, corrosive, flammable, reactive, explosive, shock sensitive, cyto- or genotoxic properties. They must be used and disposed of according to the specifications provided with each type of chemical.

Waste with high contents of heavy metals and derivatives are potentially highly toxic. They are considered as a sub-group of chemical waste but should be treated specifically.

Pressurized containers consist of full or emptied containers or aerosol cans with pressurized liquids, gas or powdered materials.

Examples of other hazardous waste can include thermometers, blood-pressure gauges, photographic fixing and developing solutions in X-ray departments, halogenated or non-halogenated solvents, organic and in-organic chemicals.

Radioactive Waste

Radioactive waste includes liquids, gases and solids contaminated with radionuclides whose ionizing radiations have genotoxic effects. There are two basic types of radiation used in a healthcare setting. An x-ray only emits radiation from the x-ray tubes when the generating equipment is on. Y-rays, a-, and b- particles emit radiations continuously.

Radioactive waste includes solid, liquid, and gaseous waste contaminated with radionuclides generated from in vitro analysis of body tissue and fluid, in vivo body organ imaging and tumor localization, and investigative and therapeutic procedures.

Healthcare Waste Management

As you can see from above the types of waste generated at a healthcare facility are numerous and have very different regulations that must be followed to keep your facility in compliance and safe.

The best approach for any facility that generates different types of waste is to have a well-identified and defined process for every stream of waste generated within the facility.

The stream should contain these points as a minimum.

In 1994, the Environmental Protection Agency released a report that found that incinerators used by many hospitals throughout the United States were a top of emitter of harmful air pollutants, including mercury and dioxin.

in 1996, environmental activist Gary Cohen founded the organization Health Care Without Harm with the goal of persuading hospitals to adopt more sustainable waste management practices. It was ironic that at the time medical centers designed to treat patients, could be harming them.

In 1997, the EPA released new emissions guidelines for hospitals to adhere to regarding medical waste incinerators. Cohen said these regulations, combined with required dioxin testing, made using incinerators more expensive “and helped support alternative strategies to deal with medical waste.”

Up until the late 1990’s it wasn’t uncommon for medical facilities to have their own incinerators but as rising concerns over the safety of the communities living near the incinerators and the environmental safety concerns, coupled with stronger regulations, made operating an onsite incinerator expensive and difficult.

Offsite treatment of medical waste is what most producing facilities choose and for a good reason.

As you can see there is a lot to consider in Healthcare Waste Management, it is often best to partner with a company who can walk you through the steps and ensure you have the best plan in place for your specific facility.

Here at Healthcare Waste Management, we own your healthcare waste from start to finish. We provide services to thousands of customers and have been in business for decades. We own our own treatment plants and directly employ the drivers that will come into your facility, our training, our employees, our trucks, and our destruction plants.

Should you have any questions or would simply like a quote on your services, contact one of our friendly staff today. We are always happy to help in any way we can. 888-427-5797

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