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 transmit infectious diseases 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.
Jobs in healthcare
When it comes to waste management in hospitals, it’s easy to imagine old needles, bags of toxic organic waste, and a broad range of other disturbing materials. However, many hospitals also have other issues when it comes to effective waste management.
Just as with any other large building, complex, or organization, the amount of standard MSW and non-medical waste that is generated is staggering, and without proper waste management systems, there is always the potential for it to end up in landfill.
Today, as the world wakes up to its mounting waste problem, some hospitals are at the forefront of a technological revolution that’s streamlining recycling systems and ensuring reduction across a range of waste streams. Here, we look at how new technology is helping hospitals to reduce waste and what that means for the third decade of the 21st century.
Multiple Locations, One Waste Management Plan
Among the many issues surrounding waste management in hospitals, the “siloed” nature of the buildings themselves present a significant challenge. Hospital campuses can be vast, containing multiple buildings, sometimes spread across entire cities. Additionally, each building may produce a range of waste, and each has varying requirements when it comes to collection and disposal.
Managing these sprawling campuses is complex, in both economic and logistical terms, but consolidating waste management strategies through centralized platforms can help overcome significant admin hurdles.
One point of contact can ensure the efficient collection of a range of waste materials from different locations at different times. This kind of approach has been fueled by the advances in app-based connectivity, meaning that operations managers working from different areas of the city can simply log their requirements and arrange collection and disposal directly from a smartphone or tablet device.
Smart Waste Management
Tracking, measuring, and assessing the variety of products used and the waste created by their use is key to reducing the amount of material that requires management. Advanced recovery solutions and RFID/GPS tracking are seen as key technologies in this sector, providing more accurate data on stock usage, discarded materials, and where waste is disposed in relation to a broad range of hospital consumables.
Tracking waste provides transparency and ultimately allows hospitals to ensure waste is delivered to the correct facilities—boosting recycling levels and improving sustainability goals. However, it also allows hospitals to better manage stock levels and daily needs, reducing waste through better management of consumables.
Today’s technologies are cutting waste off at the source by gathering data on how hospitals use products and materials and how they are dealt with after use. A simple scan of a RFID code is usually all that is required to track stock levels and usage, while GPS tracking of waste allows hospitals to provide full transparency on how waste is deal with.
Jobs in healthcare