Saving money on medical waste disposal could also mean paying for a service like ours. It sometimes becomes tedious to plan, register, and execute regular safe waste disposal but no need to worry as Hill Country Waste Disposal is here to guide and serve you. Working on this on your own can be stressful and the most convenient and effective way to do it is to partner with the experts in the field like us. Pay an affordable price, medical waste disposal is an operational expense after all, with guaranteed safe removal of waste and regular pickup schedule. Waste management and disposal has never been this safe and cost-effective.
History of Medical Waste Disposal
The potential health risks when medical wastes were washing up on many east coast beaches in 1980s led the Congress to legislate Medical Waste Tracking Act (MWTA) of 1988. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was asked to create regulations on waste management. The regulations covered four states – New York, Connecticut, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. The act ended in 1991 and EPA was able to establish that diseases caused by exposure to medical wastes was greatest at the point of generation and when they’re moved from there to another place. MWTA became the starting point for states to go ahead and regulate medical waste. Each state may impose different guidelines but the state may refer to the model guidelines developed by the Council of State governments as a ready-reference tool for all aspects of medical waste management.
Medical Waste Can Be Dangerous
The World Health Organization (WHO) classified medical waste as the following:
- Infectious waste – contaminated with blood and other body fluids, cultures and stocks of infectious agents from laboratory work, or waste from patients with infections
- Pathological waste – human tissues, organs or fluids, body parts and contaminated animal carcasses
- Sharps – needles, syringes, disposable scalpels and blades
- Chemical waste – solvents and reagents used for laboratory preparations, sterilant, disinfectants, and heavy metals contained in medical devices
- Pharmaceutical waste – expired, unused contaminated drugs and vaccines
- Cytotoxic waste – waste containing substances with genotoxic properties such as cytotoxic drugs used in cancer treatment and their metabolites
- Radioactive waste – products contaminated by radionuclides
- Non-hazardous or general waste – does not have any particular biological, chemical, radioactive or physical hazard
Basics of Medical Waste Management
General information about the fundamentals of healthcare waste management is provided by WHO. What you need to know are the following:
- The need for the development of management and supervision policies
- The minimum practice that should be respected
- Indications for the development and protective measures for health care facility staff and environment
- A definition and a classification of healthcare waste
- A presentation of the risks related to healthcare waste
- A guidance for the specific management of infectious and hazardous waste
Reduced Medical Waste Means Reduced Substantial Amount of Money
Most wastes produced in healthcare facilities are municipal wastes that can undergo recycling and recovery. There’s a 2-25% chance of reducing medical waste with proper segregation. Reducing waste not only attempts to protect the human health and the environment, but it can also save you money.
Simple Tips to Reduce Medical Waste to Save Money
The separation of different types of medical waste can help improve the amounts of infectious, hazardous, and low-level radioactive waste that require treatment. Waste treatment costs a lot of money, ensuring that we segregate the waste to be treated and not to be treated has a great impact.
If the facility has good operating practices, improved technology, and product substitution can minimize the generation of waste. Waste toxicity is reduced through purchasing and product substitution.
Resource Recovery and Recycling
Facilities and can implement simple programs that divert other wastes like paper, food waste, cardboards, etc. from the solid waste stream. Recovery and reuse of materials from the waste stream can help.
Other Resources to Minimize Medical Waste in Healthcare Facilities
- Waste Minimization, Segregation and Recycling in Hospitals
- Recycling | Factsheet
- Waste Minimization Resources
Cost of Medical Waste
Most people will think that single-use protective or medical equipment are safer, but that is not necessary. Other medical waste is not that different from the ones produced at offices or at home, and reduction of these non-hazardous wastes can help.
Single-use disposables are seen to cost less upfront than supplies which need to be maintained to prevent infection and wear and tear. In the longer term, constantly replacing devices or supplies costs more. Plastic gloves usage is a good example. For instance, a hospital in London realized that non-surgical gloves were used in moving beds or bathing babies instead of washing their hands. Wearing gloves wasn’t necessary. When staff was reminded about this, glove usage went down, and the hospital was able to save $120,000.
In 2018, a survey was conducted in the US and found that single-use plastics made up at least 20% of medical waste generated in US hospitals; 48% of the participants had “lack of knowledge” about recycling as 57% of them didn’t know which items in an operating theatre that can actually be recycled.
Knowing which supplies to used once only, supplies that can recycled, and identifying that need proper treatment can reduce management and disposal of medical waste.
Medical Waste Regulations on Sharps Disposal and Incineration
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is the public law that creates the framework for proper waste management that gave EPA the power to develop the RCRA program.
Many states have regulations requiring medical waste treatment to be regulated, certified, or licensed. EPA has the authority over medical waste treatment technologies and has proclaimed regulations creating strict standards for medical incinerators due to significant concerns related to detrimental air quality affecting human health.
Some alternative treatment and disposal techniques:
- Thermal treatment
- Steam sterilization
- Chemical mechanical systems
Disposal of sharps or needles can pose a health risk to public and even waste workers. The following are some of the documents that can provide information on management of sharps and needles:
- Protect Yourself, Protect Others: Safe Options for Home Needle Disposal
- Community Options for Safe Needle Disposal
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Sharps Safety for Healthcare Settings
Other useful information about medical waste can be found on this EPA page. It is a must to know the ins and outs of medical waste disposal as failing to comply to federal and state regulations can cause a lot of money just to pay the penalties involved.
How Much Can You Save on Medical Waste Disposal
Doing what you can to reduce the generated waste is a must and definitely a way to save money as it has a great potential in keeping the expenses low for the overall waste management. Saving money can also mean not having to pay penalties because of irresponsible waste disposal. Like the rest of the facilities regularly receiving our services, hiring us gives them peace of mind. We have been instrumental in the success of their waste disposal which also gives their employees encouragement to work better as they feel safe and protected. We are open to discussing with you the services we can offer. You may call us at 512-551-4931 or simply fill out this form to get a free quote and allow us to show you how much we can help you save.