Medical Waste Segregation. You might not think about it much, but the medical waste that your hospital produces every day can be hazardous to people and the environment if it’s not handled properly. That’s why there are regulations from OSHA, EPA, and other agencies on how you must store and dispose of medical waste.
It’s important to understand that most of these materials must be segregated into different categories before they can be thrown away. In fact, failure to follow disposal regulations is one of the top reasons why healthcare establishments receive negative attention. The good news is that with a little education and proper training, along with some simple solutions from an experienced company, you can prevent these problems from arising in your facility.
Medical waste is any type of waste that’s generated from your healthcare facility, as well as items that have come into contact with infectious materials such as bodily fluids. In most cases, this waste is either highly infectious or biohazardous. Typically, medical waste can be found in various categories, including: – Blood-soaked items such as bandages, bed sheets, and gloves – Pathological waste that includes tissues, blood, and body parts from autopsies – Sharps such as broken syringes, blades, and other items that can puncture skin – Cultures and stocks used in testing, including blood and tissue samples – Chemotherapy waste, including medication vials and unused materials
If you just toss all your medical waste together in a single bin, you run the risk of injury or cross contamination. For these reasons, you should store medical waste in different color-coded containers. For example, you can store blood-soaked items in a red container, pathological waste in a gray container, and trace chemotherapy in a yellow container. You should also make sure that your containers are properly sealed when full. This will help to keep the waste contained, as well as prevent insects from getting inside the bags. Plus, if you’re audited by the EPA, OSHA, or another regulatory body, you can prove that you’re following regulations by providing documentation that the bags are properly sealed.
Before you throw something away, make sure that it’s not a biohazardous waste. If you’re not sure, err on the side of caution and throw it in the biohazardous waste bin. For example, while disposable gloves are non-infectious and can go in a regular trash bin, blood-soaked gloves are biohazardous waste. The same goes for pathologic waste, such as tissue and biopsy samples. While you need to be careful when handling these items, they are not biohazardous waste they however are pathologic wastes. Similarly, broken glass and other sharp objects that can puncture skin should go into a specialty designed FDA approved sharps container.
In certain circumstances you will have mixed waste and segregation is not possible from the point of generation. Medical waste mixed with hazardous chemicals are generated primarily in Pathology and Clinical Laboratory areas. Examples include tissues fixed in formalin. Fixed tissues in formalin should be managed and disposed of a hazardous chemical waste. However, you should always check with your governing body and your medical waste management company to make sure that you’re following regulations properly.
If you mix infectious waste with non-infectious waste, you can compromise the safety of your employees and the community. This is something that can be easily avoided with proper training and segregation policies. By segregating your infectious waste from the source, you can prevent it from accidentally getting mixed with non-infectious waste.
Most healthcare fines are derived from improper segregation and or disposal. Not by a willful disregard of local, state, and federal regulations but rather a lack of understanding or employee training who simply did not know better. However as many have learned ignorance of the law is no defense.
Facilities use a color-coded, marked container to assist in easily identifying the appropriate container to be used at the generation point. Typical Healthcare Facilities Medical Waste Segregation containers are listed below.
Medical waste can be dangerous if it’s not handled properly. To prevent having issues with your regulators, you need to properly segregate and store your medical waste in accordance with regulations. Luckily, Bio-MED is a full-service medical waste management company with its own in-house medical waste processing plant. We must stay abreast of all the current laws and regulations to operate our medical waste plant. With the help of an expert like Bio-MED with over 25-years’ experience, you can avoid having serious issues.
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