What Can a Medical Waste Disposal Company Do for You?
Bio-Medical waste may not be something you think a lot about, but it can be a real problem, and in more ways, than you think. Here are five things about the trash produced by medical practices that you may not have known. Medical waste can be a frustrating and dangerous problem for hospitals, medical practices, and clinics. A medical waste disposal company can help you with it, however, no matter how difficult the task may seem. Here are a few examples of what a medical waste disposal company can do for you.
Infectious waste is generally defined as waste that might communicate infection to human beings. It includes everything from used surgical gloves to bandages and sponges that are soaked in human fluids. It’s tough to deal with not least because it’s potentially dangerous and has to be disposed of in a certain way by law, whether by incineration, autoclaving, or another method. This is where a medical waste disposal company comes in: These companies can come to the site, remove the waste, and destroy it according to the process required by law in your state. You can focus on patient care, not disposing of the trash surrounding it.
On the other hand, Pathological waste has a very specific definition; tissue from human beings or animals, remains of human beings or animals, and the bags and containers used to transport these materials. Pathological waste requires a medical waste disposal company simply because, especially in the case of remains, it’s key to know where this waste is going and how it’s being disposed of. Pathological waste can be extremely dangerous and it has to be handled by trained professionals who understand the risks and what needs to be done.
On the slightly less dangerous side of things, you’ve got hazardous waste. That may sound odd, but hazardous waste, while being, hazardous, is dangerous, but dangerous in different ways. For example, expired chemotherapy drugs are not infectious or pathological, but as any chemotherapy technician can tell you, even expired they still shouldn’t just be chucked in the trash.
They must be disposed of properly or they’ll present a serious threat to patients and staff alike. Another important reason to hire a medical waste disposal company for hazardous waste is that it generally includes sharps, which depending on their use can also be classified as infectious waste. So you’re dealing with two very different kinds of waste, and it can be difficult to know which disposal method to use if you’re trying it on your own.
Then there’s radioactive waste; fortunately, you generally do not have to explain to others that this waste is very dangerous. But it is very strongly restricted, legally speaking, and for excellent reason. Radioactive waste needs specific containers to be safely stored and must be disposed of very carefully. Hiring a medical waste disposal company for radioactive waste will ensure that you’re in compliance with the law and that you’re doing everything possible to respect the safety of others.
There’s also general waste, defined as the waste you’ll find anywhere: plastic packaging, paper waste, food waste, and things of that nature. This is actually 85% of all waste generated by a medical practice, according to some estimates. A general waste disposal company will work for general waste, but be sure to follow proper disposal protocols, and ensure any general waste company works closely with your medical waste disposal company.
In short, a medical waste disposal company makes it easier to collect, remove, and dispose of medical waste. Let them deal with the waste, so you can focus on the patients. And if you need a company, try Medical Waste Services; we’ll ensure that you’re in compliance, and do it at a price that will suit your budget.
7 Industries That Need Proper Medical Waste Disposal
Biohazardous waste disposal is a problem in more industries than you might think. Despite the belief that hospitals are the only source of medical waste, there are other industries where biohazardous waste disposal is essential.
Medical And Dental Facilities-
Doctors and nurses deal with bodily fluids, sharps, and other dangers on a day-to-day basis. Biohazardous waste disposal is a crucial function of any hospital, dental office, or medical practice; otherwise, it puts patients at risk, especially patients recovering from illness or surgery.
We don’t often think about it, but veterinary offices deal with the same problems that doctors and nurses do. Their patients may be a little less prone to complaining about the food, but a veterinary procedure still generates biohazardous waste that needs safe disposal, for the health of both the animals and the people who care for them.
Tattoos are many things to many people, but a properly run tattoo parlor has an obligation to its customers and its community to properly dispose of biohazardous waste such as blood-soaked gauze and needles. An improperly maintained parlor can spread infection, injure clients, and be a source of public health problems. In fact, tattoo fans are told to avoid unsafe facilities, so if nothing else, biohazardous waste disposal is crucial for staying in business.
Public Sanitation Departments-
The simple fact is that people can generate biohazardous waste at home, and they may not dispose of it properly. It’s not uncommon for diabetics and others who need to use syringes at home to simply toss the needle in the trash bag and put it on the curb. And that’s not even getting into the problems with dead vermin, animal waste, and other problems that public works departments are expected to handle, every day of the year. Biohazardous waste disposal is, for this industry, a crucial part of their public service, and to ensure their workers are properly protected.
Barbershops may not seem like the kind of place that needs biohazardous waste disposal, but hair clippings can be a source of parasites and other problems. In addition, barbers treat their tools with chemicals to ensure proper sterilization, and have sharps, such as razors and broken scissors, to throw away.
The great outdoors can be a lovely place to work, but nature is not always pretty, and sometimes park rangers will need to ensure that animal carcasses, food left behind by predators, and other wastes are properly removed and destroyed for the safety of those visiting the park.
If you kill pests for a living, you can’t just leave those pests to rot in the walls. Exterminators need biohazardous waste disposal to get rid of the animals that can’t be removed with have-a-heart traps. As you can see, biohazardous waste disposal is for far more than just hospitals. If you’ve got waste to deal with, don’t get in over your head: Call in the experts today.
Medical Waste Containers: What’s Allowed?
Medical waste is a problem for many hospitals simply because it’s such an enormous health risk; you can’t just line any trash bin from the store with a red bag and start throwing medical waste in it. There are specific rules that should be followed for both legal compliance and general hospital safety with your medical waste containers.
The Law on Medical Waste-
Unfortunately, there’s no specific consensus on medical waste, legally speaking; when the Medical Waste Tracking Act expired in 1991, it was not renewed. As a result, each state has its own rules regarding medical waste, what it is, and how to dispose of it, and you will also need to comply with OSHA standards for “infectious waste.” The best rule of thumb, across the board, is that you can never be too safe. When in doubt, ask yourself what’s safest for your staff and patients, and go with that answer.
General Medical Waste Containers-
For medical waste bins, there are several options available; depending on how you dispose of your waste, you could use disposable containers that are incinerated, or you can have permanent containers that are tightly sealed and hold a red bag to be used. Disposable containers are generally preferable, especially if you have a service that trucks medical waste off-site for disposal. However, you should also keep a supply of red bags available, especially to deal with emergencies. Red bags must be a leak- and tear-proof, and otherwise able to contain waste on their own. And disposable or not, the container should meet a few basic requirements.
It should be tightly sealed, and not open to the air; this is both to prevent the spread of airborne pathogens and also to prevent waste from spilling onto the floor if the bin is tipped over. It should be clearly labeled as a biohazard, even if you put a red bag inside of it. Preferably, a spring-loaded lid will be on the container if a lid is required, and that lid must be able to be operated without using your hands, with a device such as a pedal. Furthermore, any permanent containers will need a disinfecting protocol that must be strictly enforced. Pathogens can linger on almost any surface.
Sharps Containers: Which One to Use?
Sharps are among the most difficult types of medical waste for medical practices and hospitals to deal with. This is because they can be more than one type of hazard at once. A sharp is classified as hazardous waste by its very nature. But it can also be considered infectious waste if it’s exposed to human tissue, or even radioactive waste if used for certain purposes! So, here are the various kinds of sharps, and which containers to use.
Sharps are broadly classified as anything that can puncture and lacerate the skin. That’s not just syringes and surgical tools; it’s also broken glass and some plastics. It also includes anything attached to that sharp; if you use a needle to extract fluids to a vacutainer, that emptied vacutainer may be considered sharps waste as well as the needle. And you can’t just sweep them all into a red bag; in fact, that’s an extremely dangerous thing to do and even potentially illegal. For most sharps, you should use a general sharps container. This will be a bright red plastic container with a translucent top for observing how full the container is.
It’ll have a narrow opening so you can easily put the sharps in the container, but they can’t come spilling out, exposing patients to the pathogens that might be present and presenting a safety risk. All sharps containers, regardless of their purpose, should be clearly marked with a biohazard symbol and also clearly marked as a container holding sharps.
This is for both compliances with legal regulations and the safety of your staff. Most sharps containers come in a variety of designs; some are built to be placed on counters in examination rooms, others to be mounted on walls, still, others to be free-standing containers. Ensure that every place where sharps may be used has at least one easily accessible container and that the containers are replaced regularly.
“Mail-Back” Sharps Containers-
Some sharps containers will be designed for you to put in a box that comes with the container, once full, and ship them back to the company to be disposed of. This is a fairly convenient way to remove sharps quickly. However, be sure to check with each company about designs and shipping rates.
As these are sharps used in the drawing of blood, they’re simultaneously hazardous waste and infectious waste, so ensure that a container rated for this use is available to your phlebotomy technicians.
Chemotherapy sharps have their own containers that should be used. This is largely thanks to the fact that used chemotherapy medications are extremely toxic and dangerous, and if used in conjunction with radiation therapy, may even be radioactive. Either way, they’re more dangerous than standard sharps and are generally contained with a bright yellow bin clearly labeled for chemotherapist use.
In some situations, such as treating intravenous drug users, it may be advisable to install a locking cabinet; it’s not uncommon for sharps containers to be stolen and the needles used in some situations, which needless to say puts the patient’s health at risk. Finally, remember with sharps that safety is paramount, and not even the best container works unless it’s used. Train your staff on proper sharps disposal and instill in them that if they’re not sure what to do with something, to choose the safer option.
When it comes to medical waste containers, sharps have their own specific bins for excellent reason. Sharps are extremely hazardous to your staff and patients and used sharps must be disposed of properly using proper sharps containers. A proper sharps container will have a very small slot that will make it impossible to insert your hand. It will be a bright red or yellow color and be clearly labeled as both a biohazard and a sharps container. And the container needs to be disposable; that’s for the safety of everyone.
Remember, not everything is classified as infectious waste under the law; gloves with no bodily fluids, Band-Aids that do not release fluid when compressed, medical supply packaging, and other waste that’s not an infectious risk can be thrown away like a standard solid waste. However, for safety reasons, hold your general trash containers to a high standard; make sure they can be operated hands-free and have strong lids. They should also be clearly labeled for general trash, to avoid confusion or improper disposal.
If you’re unsure what to use, contact Medical Waste Services. Our disposal and medical waste service department will help you structure a protocol and ensure your waste is properly disposed of. Medical waste is a serious risk; treat it seriously, with Medical Waste Services.
The Most Common Biohazard Collection Mistakes
Medical waste may not be something you think a lot about, but it can be a real problem, and in more ways, than you think. Here are five things about the trash produced by medical practices that you may not have known. Biohazard collection is a dangerous, dangerous job that needs to be done right. Unfortunately, far too often, it’s done unprofessionally, or sloppily, and that puts everyone on the job or near the job site at risk. Here are the five most common problems.
- Incomplete Safety Briefings-
There is no truer saying in biohazard collection than this: Forewarned is forearmed. Make sure that everyone on or near your site, including personnel who just might be near the site, are fully briefed on what you’ll be doing, which areas to avoid, what safety equipment will need to be used, and most importantly, what to do in the event of something going wrong. Biohazard collection can be dangerous; it’s better to make sure that everyone involved understands just how dangerous it is.
- Incomplete or Inaccurate Signage-
Signage is important on any worksite, but especially so in biohazard collection. Biohazard signage ensures that everyone in the area knows that there’s a biohazard and that they need to not be in the area unless absolutely required. Signage helps reinforce the lessons you taught in your safety briefings so that nobody gets hurt. And if you’re required to bring in other workers for their expertise, those properly trained in reading the signs will know what safety gear they need and what risks they’ll be dealing with. So take the time to post signs where they’re clear, well-lit, and visible; it can make biohazard collection that much safer.
- Improper Safety Gear-
Biohazard collection needs the right safety gear: Everyone should have full-body protective suits, gloves, respirators, or other mouth protection, as well as eye protection, and it should all be rated to protect users from biohazards. Furthermore, it should be checked — and carefully — by the site supervisor or the appointed safety officer before allowing anyone to start work. “Better safe than sorry” is a good general rule when it comes to safety equipment: Make sure that ears, eyes, nose, and mouth are all covered. Also, be sure that workers are decontaminated and their safety gear is destroyed at the end of a job.
- Improper Protection Against Sharps-
By far one of the biggest problems in biohazard collection is that a whole bunch of objects designed to slice through anything, from the skin to Tyvek suits, are dumped in amid the other hazardous waste. Always assume, even if you’re not told, that sharps are a real and present issue with any biohazardous waste; even one sharp is enough to put your workers at serious risk. Similarly, make sure any sharps found are carefully removed and placed in the proper disposal container.
- Improper Disposal of Waste and Contaminated Items-
Finally, there’s the problem of getting rid of the stuff! Biohazard collection involves removal, and it absolutely must be disposed of properly. Improperly disposed of waste can pollute water tables, spread disease via the air, and become a major public health issue. Similarly, anything contaminated should be destroyed; no matter what it is, the medical bills that come with trying to keep it would cost a lot more than replacing it. Limit this problem by encouraging workers to leave anything valuable in a locker or similarly-protected location well off-site, or just don’t bring it at all. Remind them that it’s not just their health they’re risking, but the health of everyone they know.