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Medical Waste What is It?

March 24, 2022

Medical Waste What is It?

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Medical Waste What is It? Medical waste is the term for any material that has been used in a medical setting and needs to be discarded.

Waste can be liquid, solid, or semisolid. It includes anything from soiled dressings and used needles to gauze and gloves. All these materials are considered potentially infectious, and they often need to be incinerated or autoclaved before they can be disposed of safely.

Medical wastes come in many forms and sizes and could contain drugs, human blood, animal parts, sharps (needles), cultures from medical laboratories, pharmaceuticals, body fluids such as urine and saliva, tissues from surgery cases, dental equipment like x-rays or fillings that have been removed and are ready for disposal.

These types of wastes are just some examples of what’s classified under regulated medical waste.

How is it Defined?

OSHA defines biohazard waste or regulated waste as, liquid, or semi-liquid blood or other potentially infectious material (OPIM); contaminated items that would release blood or OPIM in a liquid or semi-liquid state if compressed; items that are caked with dried blood or OPIM and are capable of releasing these materials during handling; contaminated sharps; and pathological and microbiological wastes containing blood or OPIM.

The EPA defines medical waste as, a subset of wastes generated at health care facilities, such as hospitals, physicians’ offices, dental practices, blood banks, and veterinary hospitals/clinics, as well as medical research facilities and laboratories. 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. 

The WHO World Health Organization defines medical waste as Infectious waste. Infectious waste is suspected to contain pathogens (bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi) in sufficient concentration or quantity to cause disease in susceptible hosts. This category includes:

As you can see there are many specific definitions of biohazard waste, and that medical waste does not have one common name or even definition.

While there could be many different classifications of biohazardous waste. In general, they all say the same thing, waste that may be contaminated by blood, body fluids or other potentially infectious materials. Notice it says may be contaminated, meaning if it is unknown to be contaminated, it should be treated as it is contaminated.

When you are a generator of infectious waste, it is best to rely on a professional medical waste disposal company like Healthcare Waste Management who can provide you with decades of experience and regulatory guidance. Contact healthcare Waste Management Today at 888-427-5797 to see how we can help. 


(WHO) World Health Organization, Healthcare Waste Accessed March 21, 2022.

EPA – United States Environmental Protection Agency – Medical Waste Accessed March 21, 2022.

OSHA – Occupational Safety and Health Administration Accessed March 21, 2022.

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