Managing Your Medical Waste Through It's Life Cycle
Did you know you’re still responsible for your medical waste after it leaves your facility? Managing your medical waste is a comprehensive process, including after it’s removed from your office or site and disposed of it a compliant and responsible way. To help you better understand the medical waste management life cycle, we’ve broken down each step below:
Steps to Managing Your Medical Waste
Step One: Waste is Generated
Especially in healthcare settings, there are a variety of medical wastes generated from different treatments, procedures, testing, and more, such as sharps and needles, or blood-saturated gauze to name a few. Depending on your line of work, you may also produce pharmaceutical waste, which could be non-hazardous or controlled substances. Hazardous chemicals could be used in certain environments as well. This all leads us to the next step in managing your medical waste, classifying your waste.
Step Two: Classifying Your Waste
In this step, it’s important to understand the different waste types and regulations so you can properly segment your waste. There are designated containers for different medical waste types. Assuring the proper segmentation at your practice helps reduce the risk of potentially dangerous waste getting into our public sewage and waterways which have a harmful impact on our environment. You could also face large fines for not properly separating your waste for appropriate disposal.
- Regulated medical waste (RMW), such as blood-saturated items, PPE, etc go in the biohazardous box/containers with red liners. These boxes or containers are clearly identified with a biohazardous symbol and have DOT regulations, such as weight limits.
- Sharps and needle waste must be disposed of in an FDA approved, puncture-proof container. These are generally red in color and easily identifiable. They are made with durable plastic and locking mechanisms to help reduce the risk of needlestick injuries.
- Non-hazardous Pharmaceuticals are collected and disposed of in blue and white containers. The colors help identify that it’s a container designated for this type of regulated waste.
- Controlled Substances or Hazardous waste requires different containers and additional regulations.
Check out our Regulated Waste Classification guide that outlines the different waste types and designated containers for more information.
Step Three: Package and Preparing Your Waste for Pick Up
This is another very important step in the process. Improper packaging puts those handling the waste at risk for potentially dangerous exposure to infectious waste, including needlestick injuries. When packaging up your waste, be sure to follow any printed instructions on the box or container. This normally include fill lines, maximum weights, and more. If you’re dealing with a red bag, be sure to tie it securely to avoid the waste getting loose. Any regulated boxes should be taped up which also helps to ensure no leaking or spills. Red bags inside the boxes or RMW containers should not be visible after packaging.
Always follow local, state, and federal guidelines regarding DOT regulations that includes packaging, weight, proper identification, manifests or other shipping documentations, and any other applicable steps to assure you are staying compliant when packaging your waste.
Step Four: Your Waste is Picked Up, Ready for Treatment
After your waste is picked up by an authorized waste hauler, it’s taken to a treatment facility. There are different medical waste treatment methods. For regulated medical waste, the most common method of sterilizing the waste is using autoclave technology. The high temperature in this process renders the waste non-infectious after complete. After it’s been treated, it’s no longer infectious and ready for final disposal.
Other waste types, such as hazardous waste or controlled substance require different disposal methods.
Step Five: Final Waste Disposal
Final disposal methods include incineration, which is often a “Waste-to-Energy” method that turns the waste, after it’s sterilized, into energy or clean electricity. The steam created in this process powers turbines or other environmentally friendly energy producers of electricity. Often times this electricity powers local area homes or businesses.
Partner With a Medical Waste Management Company That Does it All
At Bio-MED Medical Waste Transporters, we have over 25 years experience managing the medical waste management life cycle for customers and clients throughout Michigan, Ohio, and northern Kentucky. From doctors and dentists, to veterinaries, mortuaries, and tattoo shops, we have the extensive knowledge it takes to help keep our customers compliant. We are the experts at managing regulated medical waste for generators of all sizes and help take the guesswork out of managing the different steps of dealing with medical waste. With a spotless record, we always adhere to all local, state, and federal regulatory requirements so you can feel confident knowing your medical waste is being managed properly keeping you, your staff, and your patients safe and avoid any noncompliance fines. Contact us today for free service quote or to get start today with medical waste management service.