How To Package Medical Waste. If your business has anything to do with the healthcare industry, then you’re probably already aware of how critical it is to keep medical waste contained. If you work in a hospital, clinic, nursing home, doctor’s office, or another type of medical facility, you know that keeping things clean is paramount to ensuring patient health and safety. With so many kinds of medical waste out there – such as blood samples, needles, bandages, bodily fluids, and many more – it’s understandable if you feel slightly overwhelmed as to where to begin when thinking about how best to identify, segregate, contain, store, it all safely. Read on for some useful tips on how you can safely package any kind of medical waste so that it doesn’t pose a threat to anyone.
Before you even begin to think about what kinds of medical waste you’ll be dealing with, you need to make sure that everyone who works in your facility has been trained thoroughly in how to handle it effectively. The more knowledgeable your team is, the less likely they are to make any costly mistakes. A good compliance training program will walk employees through not just what types of medical waste they will be dealing with, but also how they should be handling, transporting, storing, and packaging it.
The first thing to remember when handling any kind of medical waste is that it is potentially infectious, so it’s very important that you’re wearing the right protective equipment. This means you should always have a pair of disposable gloves on, as well as a face mask if the waste contains any bodily fluids. And don’t forget about the importance of disinfecting your hands and the proper disposal of the onetime use equipment at the end of the contact. Since blood and bodily fluids can carry infectious diseases such as HIV or Hepatitis B and C, it’s critical that you disinfect your reusable equipment thoroughly at the end of each working day to avoid contaminating other people or surfaces.
Now that you know what kinds of medical waste are being generated at your facility, you can start thinking about how to safely contain it. There are a few types of medical waste containers that you can use, depending on the type of waste that you’re dealing with. These are the containers that are: (1) rigid, (2) leak-resistant, (3) impervious to moisture, (4) of sufficient strength to prevent tearing or bursting under normal conditions of use and handling, and (5) sealed to prevent leakage during transport. In addition to the requirements listed above, sharps (e.g., needles, pipettes, scalpels, glass) must be packaged in containers that are also puncture-resistant.
Since medical waste containers are usually collected and transported by a licensed medical waste disposal company, you’ll want to make sure that they’re not overfilled so they don’t cause an injury, weigh too much, or overflow during transport. Different states have different regulations, which is why it’s important to be aware of the laws in the state where you are operating. When 2/3 to 3/4 full it is time to seal a medical waste bag. You will need 8-12 inches at the top to gather and twist the bag to prevent it from leaking, from there you can perform an overhand knot or use the gooseneck method. For sharps containers you can use the full line marked on the container to know when it is full, it is important not to overflow a sharps container, this can cause injury if the sharp does not fall into the container all the way.
If you’re dealing with a lot of syringes, needles, contaminated glass, or other small sharp objects, you’ll want to make sure that they’re clearly marked as “sharps” and kept in their own FDA approved sharps container. When your sharps container is at the full mark, you’ll want to seal and lock the container and put the sharps container into the medical waste bag.
Once you’ve filled the medical waste container to the full line or when it is 3/4 full at most, you’ll want to tie up the bag tightly to make sure nothing leaks out of it. To do this do not use the bunny ear method, this method allows for liquid to leak out of the bag.
The correct way to tie a medical waste bag is to pull the top of the bag together, reach down eight to twelve inches but be careful not to reach down far enough to hit any medical waste, and then start to twist the bag from the bottom to the top, once you reach the top twisting all of the way, you can tie an overhand knot or use the gooseneck method to seal the bag closed so it will not leak.
Once you’ve filled the medical waste container, you’ll want to store it away somewhere safe until the medical waste disposal company comes to pick it up. Medical waste storage areas should be clearly marked, secured so only authorized personal can enter it, built to be impervious to weather conditions, rain, wind, etc., store the medical waste in a manner that affords protection from animals and does not provide a breeding place or food source for insects and rodents.
Since the medical waste container is bound to be collected and transported by a licensed medical waste management company, you’ll want to make sure that the contents inside are clearly and legibly labeled. The generator must securely attach a water-resistant label or tag to each package and write in indelible ink, Generator name, Generator address, and Generator phone number (24-hour number, if available).
The transporter must also affix a label to each package in the same manner. Transporter name, Transporter permit number, Transporter address, Transporter phone number (24-hour number, if available), and for each package, the date when the medical waste initially left the generator’s site, or a unique ID number giving that information.
Medical waste is something that all medical facilities will deal with, so you’ll want to make sure that your employees are handling it correctly and that the waste disposal company is doing their job as well. For best results, make sure that everyone who works in your facility is properly trained in how to handle medical waste, and that you follow the regulatory guidelines for your state, and the policies of your facility.
Join Thousands of Other Businesses Working with Bio-MED