These are the 3 basic steps of medical waste disposal

Medical waste disposal has always been a serious issue in the healthcare industry. While any kind of waste represents an environmental issue, due to its infectious and sometimes highly hazardous nature, the process of removing biomedical remains requires much more care to avoid danger to patients and staff. 

Not to mention that since there can be serious fines when failing to meet regulations, all facilities should know how to dispose of medical waste in 3 steps. While you should always look up the requirements that affect your region, there are 3 essential steps you need to be aware of.

Let’s take a look at the 3 basic steps of medical waste disposal!

Step number 1 of medical waste disposal – collection and segregation

The first step of medical waste disposal requires you to take action as soon as the waste itself is generated. Due to its potentially infectious and hazardous nature, biomedical waste needs to be segregated and collected into special containers. In the same way, selective recycling requires you to segregate plastic from paper, different types of medical waste may also require different treatments. 

To facilitate this process, medical waste containers are color-coded so that staff and waste disposal companies can identify the type of waste stored inside. Colors may differ depending on your region, but the logic remains the same: for example, sharps waste containers can either be yellow or red with a biohazard symbol or even white or translucent. The point is that they need to be puncture-proof to prevent cuts when being handled by staff, as medical sharps are one of the most dangerous types of biomedical waste.

Step number 2 of medical waste disposal – storage and transportation

Before the actual medical waste disposal can take place, the containers need to be stored in an appropriate storage area before they can be transported away.

As for the requirements of the storage area in question, all medical waste containers need to be stored in an area that is well-separated from the most populated areas of your facility. This also means the containers need to be as far as possible from areas used for eating and drinking. Even if medical waste is stored in special containers until the disposal phase occurs, it still represents a risk of infection towards patients and staff, and you must always take extra care when handling it, even with the necessary protective gear.

Step number 3 of medical waste disposal – off-site and on-site treatment methods

Medical waste disposal can be divided into two main categories: off-site and on-site medical waste disposal.

  1. Off-site medical waste disposal requires the services of a waste removal company who will handle the transportation of waste to select landfills, where most of the time incinerators will be used to destroy the waste.
  2. On-site medical waste disposal comprises more modern methods such as autoclaving and shredding and allows to reduce the traditional risks associated with storing and transporting medical waste since the remains will already be sterile at the site of the facility.

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