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Disposing of Medical Waste What You Need to Know

Disposing of Medical Waste What You Need to Know. Are you a healthcare worker or an employee in a medical facility? If so, then you are likely aware of the policies and regulations regarding the handling, storage, and disposal of medical waste. Generally, medical waste consists of any material that is discarded as a result of providing medical services. It can be anything from syringes and blood-soaked bandages to broken glass from diagnostic tests and discarded operating room gowns. To ensure that your facility is compliant with the local, state, and federal laws and codes regarding the handling, storage, and disposal of medical waste, it’s important to understand exactly what falls under this category. Once you understand what constitutes medical waste, keeping your facility safe from potential biohazard risks will be much easier.

What Is Medical Waste?

According to the U.S. EPA, Medical waste is 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.  However, tattoo parlors, body piercing shops, and medical spas can also produce medical waste.

Disposing of Medical Waste What You Need to Know

Who Regulates Medical Waste?

Medical waste is primarily regulated by state environmental and health departments. The U.S. Federal EPA has not had authority, specifically for medical waste since the Medical Waste Tracking Act (MWTA) of 1988 expired in 1991. Congress enacted the U.S. EPA and the MWTA of 1988 and gave the Federal EPA office authority to oversee four states medical waste generation, handling, storing, transportation, treatment methods, and ultimate disposal. This provided them with enough information to create the Model Guidelines for State Medical Waste Management, and ultimately let the states come up with their own medical waste regulatory program. There are still some federal agencies involved in medical waste like OSHA, and DOT when it comes to employee’s safety and training, and DOT for transportation. For the most part though medical waste disposal regulations are governed by state agencies.

How Does Your Facility Dispose of Medical Waste?

The most common ways facilities dispose of medical waste is to hire a medical waste disposal company. This is the most efficient and cost-effective way of disposing of the waste. Due to the infection risks posed by medical waste, it is treated to be made non-infectious before it is disposed of in order to eliminate the potential risk associated with this specific type of waste. This may include autoclave treatment, incineration, or microwaving methods. When transporting medical waste, it is essential to use a medical waste disposal company. They will have the necessary permits, licensing, and insurance to transport your waste safely to the treatment and disposal site.

What to Look for in a Medical Waste Disposal Company

When looking for a medical waste disposal it is important to understand that not all medical waste disposal companies are created equal, which in turn could greatly affect the cost associated with one company over another.

From the consumers standpoint you may think, I hire a company, the work gets done, what’s the difference from one company to another. Here we will explain the difference between companies.

The first company is a broker, a broker may have a small region they service themselves but for the most part they will sign you up on their contract and then hire another different local company to do the work. The way the broker company makes money is by charging you more than the local guy charges them. It is pretty obvious, why not just go with the local guy, since he is obviously cheaper. 

The other issues you may run into with a broker company is customer service and missed pickups, since the broker company actually does not directly employ the drivers or set schedules, your scheduled service may suffer. If there is a missed pickup, you will never call the broker company and get a direct answer, because they then must call the local company, figure out what happened, get a resolution and then they will be able to talk to you about it. You can see how this type of customer service can really become problem some and time consuming for your employees who have real work to do.

The next type of medical waste disposal company you will run into is a hauler, a medical waste hauler does not own their own medical waste processing plant, they simply haul the waste from your facility to another company that will treat the medical waste and then dispose of it. A hauler could just be a one truck, one guy operation, with the minimum of everything, insurance, liability, etc. With a hauler you are still paying two companies to dispose of your medical waste, even if you only get billed from one company. The hauler will incorporate the cost of treatment and disposal into his bill, and possibly at a markup, meaning you are paying more for the process.

The last type of medical waste company is a full-service medical waste management company, this company will be able to serve your needs without a third-party treatment plant or another company performing part of the service. They will directly hire and train the employees that will come into your facility, they will own a fleet of service trucks to safely transport your medical waste, and they will own a medical waste treatment plant to make your medical waste non-infectious. This company will have invested in the process points, pickup, transportation, treatment, and disposal. Here at Bio-MED we knew in order to be able to provide our customers with the best possible customer service and pricing, we had to own the touch points. We invested in our business to have the ability to provide our customers with world class service and pricing. Contact us today to experience the Bio-MED difference.

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