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The Essential Guide to Safely Managing Medical Waste

‍The Essential Guide to Safely Managing Medical Waste. Medical waste is a reality for healthcare facilities and other businesses in the medical field. Disposing of such waste properly is not only important for the health of your employees, and for the environment, it is the law. The purpose of this guide is to provide an overview of medical waste, its different types, and the best practices for managing it safely and lawfully.

Introduction to Medical Waste

Medical waste is a broad term that covers any type of waste that is generated because of medical activities. This includes things like contaminated dressings, sharps, and other materials that are used in healthcare settings. It can also include things like personal protection equipment and carpules.

Medical waste can be dangerous, as it may contain pathogenic and infectious substances that can cause serious illnesses and infections. For this reason, it is important to know how to manage medical waste safely and in compliance with the law.

What is Medical Waste?

Medical waste is any type of waste that is generated as a result of certain activities usually related to medical but not always. Dental, and veterinary practices, laboratories, research facilities and even tattoo & body piercing shops all create medical waste.

This includes things like blood and other body fluids, used needles and syringes, cultures and stocks, and discarded sharps.

Types of Medical Waste

The Essential Guide to Safely Managing Medical Waste

Although there is no universally accepted definition for medical waste, the definitions offered by most regulatory agencies are similar.

The following six medical wastes are commonly regulated by states:

  1. Pathological waste. Tissues, organs, body parts, and body fluids removed during surgery and autopsy.
  2. Human blood and blood products. Waste blood, serum, plasma and blood products.
  3. Cultures and stocks of infectious agents (microbiological waste). Specimens from medical and pathology laboratories.
  4. Contaminated sharps. Contaminated hypodermic needles, syringes, scalpel blades, Pasteur pipettes, and broken glass.
  5. Isolation waste. Generated by hospitalized patients isolated to protect others from communicable disease.
  6. Contaminated animal carcasses, body parts and bedding. From animals intentionally exposed to pathogens in research, biologicals production, or in vivo pharmaceuticals testing.

How to Safely Manage Medical Waste

Safely managing medical waste is an important part of any healthcare facility’s operations. There are several steps that should be taken to ensure that medical waste is managed in a safe and compliant manner.

  1. Segregation: One of the most important steps in managing medical waste is segregation. It is important to separate waste at the generation points so that it can be collected properly.
  2. Labeling: All medical waste should be clearly labeled. This will help ensure that it is properly treated and disposed of.
  3. Containment: All medical waste should be properly contained in leak-proof bags or containers. This will help prevent contamination of the facility or environment.
  4. Training: All personal that has occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens and medical waste should be trained on your facilities policies and local, state, and federal regulations.
  5. Storage: All medical waste should be stored in accordance with local, state, and federal regulations. This will help ensure compliance and protect staff and patients alike.

Medical Waste Disposal Regulations

Medical waste is regulated by both local and federal laws. Local laws may vary from state to state, while federal laws are the same across the country. It is important to understand the applicable regulations.

There are no federal regulations governing medical waste disposal, the disposal itself is governed at the state level. Federal regulations fall under DOT and OSHA for proper training, handling, storing, and the transporting of medical waste.

Who is Responsible for Medical Waste Disposal?

The responsibility for medical waste disposal lies with the healthcare facility or business that generates the waste. It is the responsibility of the facility or business to ensure that all medical waste is disposed of in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.

It is also the responsibility of the healthcare facility or business to ensure that medical waste is collected, handled, stored, transported, and disposed of in a safe and compliant manner. This includes segregating, labeling, and containing medical waste in accordance with applicable regulations.

Michigan Medical Waste Disposal Requirements

The state of Michigan has specific regulations governing the disposal of medical waste. These regulations are outlined in the Medical Waste Regulatory Program (MWRP) which administers and enforces Michigan’s Medical Waste Regulatory Act (MWRA).

The MWRA mandates how medical waste producing facilities must manage their medical waste from the point at which it is generated to its ultimate disposal point. Generators of medical waste are also required to register initially and every 3 years thereafter as producing facilities of medical waste under the MWRA.

Medical Waste Disposal Options

There are several options available for the disposal of medical waste. These include:

  • Autoclave – An autoclave uses steam and pressure to sterilize the waste.
  • Microwave – Microwave disinfection can also be employed for treatment of medical wastes.
  • Chemical Decontamination – Chemical Decontamination is the use of specific chemicals to render the biohazardous materials harmless.
  • Incineration – Incineration is a process of burning specific types of biohazard wastes which include pathological, trace chemotherapy and non-hazardous pharmaceutical wastes.

Best Practices for Medical Waste Disposal

There are several best practices that should be followed when disposing of medical waste. These include:

  • Understand the laws and regulations for your area.
  • Compliance training for how to handle and dispose of medical waste in your facility.
  • Understand the color-coding system of your facilities medical waste containers.
  • PPE always use personal protection equipment when exposure is likely.
  • Segregate medical waste at the point of generation.
  • Use the appropriate containers for segregation, storage, and treatment.
  • Do not overfill containers.
  • Labeling and Packaging, it is the generators responsibility to properly label and package, secure medical waste for transportation.
  • Generator’s onsite storage requirements. Make sure you understand your local, state, and federal requirements for storing medical waste onsite.
  • Detailed Documentation for all medical waste generated, from when the container was first put into use, until its final disposal.
  • Use a professional medical waste management service like Bio-MED. We can help you in all areas of medical waste management from segregating, containers, color-coding, regulations for your specific area, labeling and packaging to transportation, treatment, and disposal.

By following these best practices, healthcare facilities and businesses can ensure that medical waste is handled safely and in compliance with the law.


Remember, safe and compliant medical waste disposal is essential for the health of your employees and the environment. By following the best practices outlined in this guide, and hiring an experienced medical waste management company with their own treatment plant you can rest easy knowing your medical waste is being taken care of.

If you have any questions about medical waste, contact Bio-MED Today for all your medical waste disposal needs!




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