All about Medical Waste Disposal Vol. 2

1. What Is Medical Waste?

Patriot Shredding Medical Waste Disposal ServicesAccording to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the definition of medical waste is fairly broad “all waste materials generated at health care facilities, such as hospitals, clinics, physician’s offices, dental practices, blood banks, and veterinary hospitals/clinics, as well as medical research facilities and laboratories.” It fails to include any organization that produces medical waste such as syringes or needles from their employees or customers, or the home producer for that matter.

How Much Medical Waste Is Produced?

In 2012, the United States spent up to $2.5 billion for the proper disposal of medical waste. Moreover, with annual growth of 4.8%, by 2017 the annual market is expected to $3.2 billion. For instance, consider these medical waste statistics:

  • Just hospitals in the U.S. produce more than 5.9 million tons of waste annually
  • Hospitals produce 33 lbs.of medical waste per day per staffed bed
  • Florida alone has approximately 38,000 facilities that generate biomedical waste

In short, almost all healthcare activities related to humans produce medical waste. So, can you imagine the dangers of what would happen if it was disposed of improperly?

The Epidemiology

(How Often Diseases Occur in Different Groups of People and Why)

WHO (World Health Organization) even mentioned that in 2000, there were 32% new Hepatitis B infections due to improper way of contaminated syringe disposal. In 2002, WHO conducted research to review 22 countries about their way of medical waste disposal management and resulting various ranges from 18% up to 64% that used improper methods of biomedical waste management. Dangerous, huh?

Who Are At Risk For Biomedical Waste Exposure?

People who have the highest risk of being the biomedical waste, for instance, healthcare workers, patients, waste collection and disposal staff, and even our environment. The biomedical waste may pose an occupational hazard when managed incorrectly. Therefore, we need special precautions and the well-trained personnel to manage those biomedical wastes and keep the risk low.

Why Do We Need To Manage The Biomedical Waste In The Right Way?

There are several reasons to manage biomedical waste in an appropriate way:

  • Health – Nobody wants to see blood drops on the floor when they walk into hospital visiting a sick friend because the risk of being infected by any number of diseases
  • Infection risk – the risk of infection obtained from sharp injuries can lead to infection
  • Environment pollution – The risk of air, water and soil pollution directly from waste due to defective incineration or autoclaving can be harmful.

The biomedical waste treatment and disposal need to be in a complete management to ensure the safety of the workplace and maintain our health. If you maintain the safety process correctly, it will:

  • Effectively reduce your legal liability
  • Reducing the danger to the community, personnel and patients
  • Keep your reputation high

The OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has an established procedure for dealing with biomedical waste hazards that can minimize our risk with contaminated articles. Thus, we at BioMedical Waste Solutions, LLC, use OHSA standards as our guidance to dispose the medical waste properly.

Regulated VS Unregulated

Of all the health care waste (HCW) there is essentially two types: Regulated medical waste (RMW) and unregulated medical waste (UMW). Approximately 75% to 90% of HCW is UMW (unregulated) or known as healthcare general waste (HCGW). This waste is similar to typical household waste consisting of papers and plastics that are not been in contact with patients and is categorized as non-infectious. This type of waste is simply disposed in accordance with municipal regulations. Approximately only 10% to 25% of HCW is infectious/regulated medical waste (RMW).

Naturally, this RMW has to be handled with special care as we’ll describe below because it could pose a threat to the health of others, either by contaminating the environment or through direct contact with an individual. The easier way to differentiate the two types is to ask yourself “could this waste kill someone or make them sick?” If yes, then this waste is regulated and must be handled with special care.

Eight Categories of Medical Waste

It’s important to know what kind of medical waste your facility produces then you can determine the proper disposal. The WHO classified the medical waste into eight (8) categories of medical waste:

  1. Infectious waste – Waste that may transmit infection from virus, bacterial, parasites to human, i.e.: lab cultures, tissues, swabs, equipment and excreta
  2. Sharps – Sharp waste, such as needle, scalpels, knives, blades, etc.
  3. Pathological – Human tissue or fluids i.e. body parts, blood, other body fluids
  4. Radioactive – Unused liquid in radiotherapy or lab research, contaminated glassware, etc.
  5. Chemical – Expired lab reagents, film developer, disinfectant
  6. Pharmaceuticals – Expired and contaminated medicines
  7. Pressurized containers – Gas cylinders and gas cartridges
  8. General waste (UMW) – No risk to human health because no blood or any related bodily fluid, i.e.: office paper, wrapper, kitchen waste, general sweeping, etc.

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2. 4 Best Practices for Medical Waste Disposal and Transportation

Patriot Shredding Medical Waste Disposal ServicesThe medical waste management industry is often diverse and complicated. With so many different types of potential medical waste and with different rules and regulations stipulating how each of those types of waste needs to be handled, it can quickly become confusing. Adding to the stress is the fact that improper handling carries real consequences. It can mean contamination of groundwater or public endangerment if there’s an accident or spill involving hazardous materials. It can also mean fines or other consequences for the generator of that waste. With that in mind, the following are some best practices for safe, legal disposal and transport of medical waste.

Doctor Offices and Hospitals: Important to know these 4 Best Practices for Medical Waste Disposal and Transportation.

Proper Medical Waste Containers Are Crucial

Often people in the medical field get so involved in the accurate identification of their generated waste that they lose sight of other details in the shipping process. One item that can be overlooked in this way is containerizing.

To properly transport medical waste, all medical-related waste must be placed in approved containers first. Depending on the type of waste, this could mean certified cardboard boxes or tubs. Again, sometimes people think so long as the waste is put into any container, it suffices, but that’s certainly not the case.

Containers used for medical waste should be:

  • Taped before shipment. Bags within the container should also be taped.
  • Department of Transportation (DOT) approved.
  • Boxed according to DOT restrictions on weight.
  • Sealed properly.
  • Stored in a dry, secure area after being filled and while awaiting pickup.

Proper Packaging Depends on Medical Waste Type

Accurate identification of your medical-related waste is crucial because it determines how you need to package and ship that waste.

Regulated medical waste, for example, should be placed in red bag liners. Those bags should then be placed inside adequately sealed DOT-approved containers.

Any sharps in your red bag waste (contaminated needles, syringes, surgical knives, scalpels, etc.) should be placed in puncture-resistant containers before being put in proper medical waste container boxes. This step is essential, as it protects anyone in contact with that waste from getting cut or poked with those sharps and potentially exposed to any infectious material. Even though drivers are made to wear puncture-resistant gloves, these protective items aren’t foolproof, and this protocol should be followed with every sharp every time.

Proper Paperwork Must Be Provided

All regulated waste that’s being shipped needs to be accompanied by a properly filled out bill of lading. If this paperwork is inaccurate or missing, the liability rests with the generator of that waste.

If you’re looking to transport anything hazardous, which could include some pharmaceutical waste, a bill of lading is not used. Rather, you’ll need a hazardous waste manifest.

Proper Waste Management Companies Can Help

You always want to work with a waste management company that is fully certified and permitted to transport that waste. Working with an established, reputable company will also help ensure that the waste ends up shipped to a proper treatment facility. Because the waste is the generator’s responsibility at every step, you need to work with companies that understand the legal policies in place and comply by those regulations to the letter when disposing of all medical waste and hazardous waste.

Working with a professional outfit presents many benefits:

  • The company is punctual and on time. If they make appointments, they keep them, so you never have to worry about whether the waste is actually going to get picked up or not. Sometimes there are even time frames for how long the waste can legally stay at your site, so timely pickups are crucial.
  • You can develop a professional relationship with that company. You get to know the driver, and the driver gets to know your business. Therefore, he or she can perform pickups without having to disrupt your workday more than is absolutely necessary.
  • Professional companies will do everything possible to comply with regulations. It helps to legally protect your company and helps minimize the chance of anyone getting sick or injured from that waste.

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If you are looking for some awesome, knowledgeable people to work with, these are the guys I highly recommend. Their friendliness and result-driven approach is what I love about them.

John Doe

If you are looking for some awesome, knowledgeable people to work with, these are the guys I highly recommend. Their friendliness and result-driven approach is what I love about them.

John Doe

If you are looking for some awesome, knowledgeable people to work with, these are the guys I highly recommend. Their friendliness and result-driven approach is what I love about them.

John Doe