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Management of medical waste – how to dispose of hospital-generated waste properly

Do we have anything to worry about when it comes to disposing of medical waste? The researchers from Harvard underline that it’s hazardous to dump medical supplies in the trash. At this point, medical pollution doesn’t harm humans, but it disturbs all other forms of life, focusing on aquatic life. The chemicals from medications, prescription drugs, and medical supplies that get into water streams contaminate water and adversely affect wildlife. Medical waste and pharmaceuticals can spread disease, trigger sterility, and cause injuries. 

Medical waste includes a broad range of elements, from materials healthcare facilities, use to products used in laboratories to create medicine. But hospitals and healthcare facilities aren’t the only ones that produce clinical waste; households also generate a high amount of waste materials. Regardless of the components, medical waste should be disposed of carefully to prevent pollution in the environment and human exposure. 

Depending on the source and volume of medical waste, organizations have multiple options at hand to manage it. Waste management plans include on-site and off-site solutions. But the surest way to stop pollution and prevent exposure is to hire a medical waste disposal company that possesses skills and equipment to deal with clinical waste. 

The process includes three steps: collection, storage and transportation, and treatment and disposal. This article sheds some light on all of them. 

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Collection of waste

When running a healthcare facility, you must search for the best ways to collect waste because, as it’s the case for all waste, the best practice for managing it, is to start at the generation point. You produce the waste, so it’s your role to familiarize yourself with the proper ways to collect and categorize it. In practice, it means acquiring Mil-tek Balers & Compactors, sorting waste, and managing it properly. Most waste disposers use color-coded containers to separate and sort biomedical waste. The usual coding is the following:

– Red containers for sharp objects like razors, blades, and needles

– Red containers with a biohazard symbol for waste that poses a risk for an infection. Contaminated equipment, blood-stained materials, and IV tubing are only some of the elements you find in red containers. 

– Yellow containers are made for chemotherapy waste collection. All equipment medical personnel use when treating cancer patients, from gowns to gloves and empty vials end in yellow containers. 

– Black containers collect hazardous waste like medicine, drugs, and bulk chemo. 

– Blue containers are created for pharmaceutical waste like antibiotics, injectables, and pills

– Yellow containers with a radioactive symbol are used for radioactive waste like the liquids made in laboratories, or elements radiotherapy contaminates. 

Waste storage and transportation

When collaborating with a medical waste disposal company, they handle all processes for you. You need a specially-designed space to secure waste and keep the general public away. The storage space should be located away from commonly-used areas and in another area than the one used for drink and food consumption. Storage is vital when you dispose of biochemical waste in bulk. It would help if you had medical waste ballers to secure the trash because it can easily contaminate the surrounding space when not correctly stored

The waste disposal company handles transportation because they use special vehicles to keep the supplies isolated. Most of the vehicles used for this purpose have state of the art defensive tools used to protect the workers. 

Waste disposal and treatment

Until the disposal company removes the trash from your premises, you’re responsible for it. You must also collaborate with a company that safely disposes of waste, so research before hiring is crucial. Most companies use incineration as a waste disposal solution for pharmaceutical and pathological waste, but there are also other methods. Some disposers use autoclave chambers to dispose of infectious and sharp trash. 

What method is best?

The main two methods for waste destruction are incineration and autoclaving. Because they both have their pros and cons, you may wonder which is best. To help you figure out what solution is more suitable for your business, we present short descriptions for both processes. 

As its name says, incineration is a method that implies burning medical waste in a controlled environment. You cat set up an on-site incineration area with professional equipment and technology to destroy waste before leaving the medical location. In fact, authorities recommend medical facilities to create incineration sites to lower the volume of medical waste transported from hospitals to landfills or other disposal sites. This investment can save you thousands of dollars in the long run if you’re running a large facility that produces extensive amounts of scrap. 

The pre-treatment process reduces the volume of bio-chemical waste that heads to landfills and guarantees reduction or even complete removal of dangerous and infectious elements in the waste stream. Each state designs special off-site and on-site incineration regulations for hazardous waste, and some don’t allow incineration because of damage to air quality and pollution. 

Autoclaving also uses heat to remove medical waste, but instead of fire, it uses steam to sterilize trash and remove microorganisms. An autoclave is a closed chamber system that uses heat in the form of steam and pressure to sterilize and destroy microorganisms in bio-chemical rubbish. Most hospitals use this method to sterilize medical equipment and tools, especially sharp objects. 

When placed in an autoclave, waste is treated with extreme heat to kill microorganisms. You can equip your medical facility with an autoclave if your waste reaches over 4000 liters of volume monthly. 

Remember that different varieties of medical waste require special treatment. Chemical non-incineration treatments are designed for liquid and chemical waste. Irradiation or microwaving treatment decontaminates sharp tools and infectious trash. Thermal methods are used for sharp equipment and infectious waste, as long as it doesn’t include pathological elements. 

To identify the best methods for storing and removing waste from your healthcare facility, check the local laws regarding on-site and off-site biochemical waste disposal because they provide several regulations and guidelines. 

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