This article first appeared in DE’s Expert Tips & Tricks. To receive enlightening and helpful practice management articles in this e-newsletter twice a month, visit dentistryiq.com/subscribe.
Medical waste disposal often costs five to eight times as much as solid waste disposal. When health-care professionals select a company to manage their medical waste, they want a reliable service that will address their unique needs. While many services can meet those expectations, their prices can vary dramatically.
If you feel like you’re overpaying for your medical and biohazard waste disposal, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the factors that affect the cost. You can perform a quick audit of your current medical waste needs and assess whether or not your current provider is meeting your requirements.
You’ll want to become familiar with your state’s regulations and to stay up to date with your OSHA compliance training. Proper training will ensure safe and compliant disposal practices. Also, each state has different rules and regulations for handling, labeling, time of storage, weight, recordkeeping, and container management of medical waste.
Many dental practices find themselves overspending by improperly classifying medical waste and adding items that could be going into the solid waste stream. Properly segregating your waste can help your practice cut down on expenditures, but many health-care providers place items that could be going into a regular trash bin in the red biohazard bags.
A common misconception is that any item that comes in contact with bodily fluids or infectious materials is considered medical waste or biohazardous waste. By OSHA definitions, items with trace levels of contamination can be placed in municipal solid waste. Bandages or gauze with small amounts of blood can be disposed of in regular trash cans.
Once you’re sure that everyone in your practice is properly classifying your medical waste, you can figure out how much medical waste you’re actually generating on a typical cycle. From there you can decide how often you need to schedule your pickups.
The frequency of scheduled pickups will factor into your price. Take a look at your medical waste bags before your scheduled pickup. If they’re consistently half or a quarter full, you might want to think about switching frequency and saving a trip.
In some circumstances, a pickup plan may not make sense. If you’re a small-scale generator, you can look into mail-back programs. This means that a regulated medical waste container will be shipped to your practice, and when it’s full you simply return the container via mail. This is also a great option if you’re in a remote location where transportation fees are higher.
Once you’ve assessed the volume of waste you’re generating and the frequency with which it’s picked up, look at the different services being offered and see if you can bundle them together to get more for your dollar. For instance, some practices might be paying separately for their sharps disposal, biohazard red bag disposal, and compliance training. Talk with your hauler and see if there’s any way to bundle these services.
Finally, you’ll want to make sure that you’re properly covered in the event that something happens during the transport of your waste. Learn about the insurance coverage of the disposal service. This could potentially save you thousands in the long-run. Accidents do happen, and you want a service that offers the peace of mind that you’ll be protected should something occur.
So if you’re overpaying for your medical waste disposal service, do a quick audit of your needs and make sure your service takes into account factors such as volume and frequency. It also doesn’t hurt to shop around and look for a more flexible service. You shouldn’t have to stress over the cost of a required service.