- January 3, 2017
- Posted by: Jim Bayes
- Category: Uncategorized
The 3 Keys to Safe Medical Waste Management: and why your company can’t ignore them
Medical waste management is the set of procedures and guidelines that govern the safe storage, removal, and disposal of potentially hazardous waste that’s either organic in nature or has been contaminated by bio-material in a medical or research setting. In essence, it is any kind of medical waste that could potentially cause harm to a person, wildlife, or the public at large.
If you are a business, hospital, private clinic, or other practitioner working in this field, then you are almost certainly generating this kind of waste. If you are, then you are well aware of the dangers that come with it and the strict regulations that you must abide by. Non-compliance is not an option.
Key #1 – Security
The first key toward safely managing your medical waste starts right on the home front. Before you even begin to try and dispose of it yourself or outsource the duty to a professional company, you must take care of it at your facility by properly storing it. Always remember to:
● Use a proper container (more on that in a minute!)
● Keep it out of reach of curious hands
● Keep it a secret if you’re at home
● And never overfill any container
These few tips alone will go a long way. There are nearly 400,000 estimated sharps-related injuries in the healthcare industry alone each year that could easily be avoided if these principles were followed (source).
When securing waste in your facility, you must always use a properly labeled container. Some examples are:
● Sharps management – sharps are one of the most common types of waste. They are any object contaminated by bio material that could puncture the human skin. Needles, lancets and syringes are all common examples. Whether you are at home or in a commercial setting, sharps must always be stored in a sturdy, puncture-proof container. Make sure the container is properly labeled, has a controlled opening that can keep children and pets out, and is not see-through. Always keep it secret and out of the way.
● Pathological waste – one of the most dangerous forms of waste, pathological waste includes biological waste such as blood, body organs, and other fluids. These types of waste can cause infections, and are therefore strictly regulated. You must store them in the proper bags or containers. Depending on which kind of waste, a label must be present that identifies the waste as hazardous. Please consult the CDC’s website for more information.
If you take these key steps at your facility, we will all be much safer! It starts with you.
Key #2 – Scheduling
Life is all about meeting schedules and deadlines, and medical waste is no different. The pickup schedule for your waste is one of the major keys to safety both for the public at large and within your own building. Getting the right number of pickups is one part art and one part science. It’s best to consult with professionals who are experts in this area to do it for you. Too many visits and you’ll be spreading your budget thin. Too few and you’ll be putting everyone at risk.
Experts will take into account your:
● Type of waste generated
● Volume of waste
● And risk of exposure
As well as many other factors such as your budget into account when deciding the optimized schedule for you. You cannot risk leaving medical waste just lying around to build up. It must be disposed of optimally. You run the risk of non-compliance with OSHA standards, getting fined, or perhaps even shut down if you do not dispose of it frequently enough.
Key #3 – Disposal
The most important part is the disposal itself. Depending on how much waste you have, the kind of waste, and your location, actually disposing of the waste will vary greatly. Let’s look at a few key examples:
● Self-disposal – if you are one of the many people managing a medical condition at home and generating sharps waste, then you might be able to dispose of it alone. Bring it to a collection center in a container or mail it back with one of the many mailback programs in the area.
● Commercial self-disposal – commercial self-disposal differs from personal in the fact that commercial often generates more volume and of different types. Small medical clinics might generate bio waste whereas someone at home rarely does. It could be possible to have a company vehicle transport said waste to a disposal center and pay the fees, but we highly recommend outsourcing the duty to a professional company.
● Commercial disposal – if you are a large medical clinic or hospital generating high volume, then there is no choice but to use a medical waste disposal company. It is impossible to manage the collection and disposal while still remaining compliant and running your daily operations. Outsourcing saves money when compared to having an in-house team.
Professional disposal companies
Medical waste disposal companies are part of a rapidly growing industry that is set to eclipse the $13 billion dollar value mark by 2020 in the USA alone. Factors such as a rapidly aging population, increases in self-management technology, increasingly strict regulations, and cost-saving measures by private businesses have all lead to growth in our sector. It’s clear that outsourcing the management of waste from medical facilities is fast becoming the preferred method for both private medical clinics and other commercial entities.
Medical waste management is a difficult process but one that is necessary for public safety. The three keys to safe management are security, scheduling, and proper disposal. Depending on the volume and type of waste you produce, your options will vary. If you are a small operation or produce waste at home, then you can do it by yourself. If you are a large operation, then the best choice is getting a professional medical waste company in MA to do it for you.