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Medical Waste Management Tips to Keep You Safe



December 2, 2021



Home » Medical Waste » Medical Waste Management Tips to Keep You Safe

Medical Waste Management Tips to Keep You Safe

Medical Waste Management Tips to Keep You Safe. Medical waste management is a concern for all organizations that generate medical waste. Waste collection and medical waste disposal must be done in a way that protects the health of staff, patients, and the public. This guide will help you understand what medical waste is, how to ensure your organization’s compliance with medical waste regulations, and methods for reducing your medical waste stream.

To have a successful medical waste management program, your employees, need to understand what it is, and how to safely handle and dispose of it correctly. Whether it’s sharps, regular waste, medical waste, or trace chemo, there are specific regulations of how to handle, store, and dispose of it. You will want your employees to understand the ways items could be infected through cross-contamination, there are many reasons why you should have a sound medical waste management program in place.

This guide will help provide information about identifying different types of medical waste, who generates medical waste, how to handle medical waste, who regulates medical waste, how medical waste is disposed of, and how manage your medical waste program.

Compliance Training Understand Medical Waste Policies and Regulations

One of the best ways to keep your medical waste management program on track is providing frequent training of your facilities medical waste policies and local, state, and federal regulations. By your employees understanding where to throw, it will help reduce your medical waste streams.

 It is imperative that front line generators of medical waste and janitorial staff understand the proper collection and disposal processes you have setup for your location.

Once the generation points are identified in your facility, the appropriate color-coded containers should be placed at the generation points. The medical waste should always be placed in the medical waste container, by the person who generated it, immediately after use, never lay medical waste down and pick it up later for disposal. 

What is Medical Waste? – Defining Medical 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.

Always check with your local regulations or call Healthcare Waste Management should you have any questions concerning medical waste and its disposal.

Some common names for medical waste include, regulated medical waste, infectious waste, infectious medical waste, biomedical waste, biohazard waste, and sharps waste.

Medical Waste Defined – As per the EPA, generally, medical waste is healthcare waste that that may be contaminated by blood, body fluids or other potentially infectious materials and is often referred to as regulated medical waste. 

Who Generates, Medical Waste?

Medical waste is generated by many different industries including but not limited to hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, dental practices, tattoo shops, body piercing shops, medical spas, and veterinary offices.

Organizations that generate medical waste are all classified as generators or producers of medical waste. These facilities produce different types of medical waste that must be segregated into the proper containers or bags for collection and disposal.

The types of waste most commonly produced by these facilities include:

Sharps – this waste may include, Needles, Blades, Razors, Ampules, Broken Glass, Guide Wires, Staples, Trocars, Any Sharp Object.

Biohazard Waste – these may include, Blood Products, IV Tubing, Cultures, Stacks, Infectious Waste, Contaminated PPE.

Pharmaceutical Waste – these may include, Partial IV’s, IV Tubing, Unused Pills, Topical Ointments, Partial Vials, Sponges soaked in liquid meds, Expired Pills.

RCRA Hazardous Waste – these may include, “RX” D, U and P listed Pharmaceutical’s, Antineoplastic, Waste, Mercury-filled Devices, Chemical Sterilizing Agents

Dual Waste – these may include Hazardous and Infectious waste such as Syringes, bulk pharmaceuticals, ampoules with meds, live vaccines, syringe, or vial with RCRA or P listed pharmaceuticals.

Trace Chemotherapy Waste – these may include RCRA empty syringes, vials, IV bags where less than 3% remains in a chemical and other forms of RCRA medical waste.

General Guidelines for Handling Medical Waste

How to Handle Medical Waste. If you work in an industry where you are exposed to blood / body fluids, there are a list of requirements and guidelines you should follow.

Some general guidelines for handling and disposing of medical waste that all organizations should be aware of:

Who Regulates Medical Waste?

You may be wondering who regulates medical waste. There are several federal and state regulations that need to be considered when it comes to your organization’s compliance with medical waste and its disposal.

It is important to contact your state environmental program first when disposing of medical waste. Contact your state environmental protection agency and your state health agency for more information regarding your state’s regulations on medical waste.

You can find a list of Environmental Agencies by State here on the EPA Website.

Other federal agencies have regulations regarding medical waste. These agencies include Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and potentially others.

How is Medical Waste Disposed of?

There are many types of medical waste, and they may require different treatment methods to make them 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.

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.

Benefits of Using Healthcare Waste Management

Healthcare Waste Management services the Midwest for medical waste disposal, biohazard waste disposal, sharps container disposal and secure document destruction. We offer online compliance training to keep your facility compliant with current OSHA regulations, bloodborne pathogens certificates, exposure control plans and SDS / MSDS tracking are just some of the features of our online training portal. However, it is much more than just a training portal, it holds all the documents needed for any OSHA inspection.

Healthcare Waste Management is proud to bring a first-class medical waste disposal experience to our customers. From the local medical office to national healthcare systems, we bring innovation and customer service that is unparalleled.

We back it up by owning your medical waste from start to finish. We own the trucks that come to your facility, we employ and train the drivers that come into your facility, and we own the destruction plants that destroy your waste.

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 also 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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