Medical waste is defined as waste that is a by-product of healthcare treatments at hospitals, doctor’s offices, and surgeries, dentists, and laboratories as well as veterinarian’s offices, tattoo establishments, and med spas. Medical waste management includes handling material that comes into contact with the patient’s body during research, diagnosis, drug administration, or other types of medical treatment.
Medical waste has high regulations regarding disposal because waste materials can increase infectious disease exposure if not properly handled. There are many types of medical waste, and these are categorized by the kinds of materials used and waste disposal methods. In the U.S., medical waste is categorized as radioactive, hazardous, infectious, and general.
- Radioactive Waste. Medical equipment and treatment used in cancer therapies or any other radioactive treatment.
- Hazardous Waste. Sharps, scalpels, discarded surgical equipment, and other chemical waste used in treatment.
- Infectious Waste. Waste that causes an infection, including human tissue, blood, or any implement contaminated with bodily fluids.
- General Waste. Waste paper, gowns, masks, gloves, or medical office waste.
In 1988, the U.S. Federal Government passed the Medical Waste Tracking Act. This act set the standards of how medical wastes were disposed of and destroyed. It became necessary to regulate medical wastes when a 30-mile garbage slick composed of medical waste, including needles and empty prescription bottles, prompted closures of New York and New Jersey beaches. Concerned citizens immediately became incensed that such debris would be allowed to “just be thrown away.”
How To Dispose of Medical Waste
Medical waste administration depends on your staff, understanding the different types of medical waste, and your state or area regulations. There are different techniques to ensure that infectious waste is disposed of properly and cannot spread disease or infection to other areas.
No longer can medical waste be disposed of in a landfill. Regulations require specialized treatment. Treatment includes the use of a medical incinerator, which will ensure that all traces of pathogens are destroyed. Other types of medical waste administration include waste disposed of in specific containers, labeled in precise ways, and employees trained to handle medical waste.
There are two distinct categories of medical waste disposal. One is Red Bag, and the other is Sharps. Red Bag is used for contaminated medical material that contains blood or other potentially infectious materials. Medication is not to be disposed of in a red bag.