Posted on June 4, 2018

It’s the responsibility of every medical location to make sure that all are aware of and dispose of medical waste in appropriate manner. This ensures the safety of the staff, patients and the community/ecology while also saving time and money.

The average medical office, whether private, clinic or hospital, is incredibly busy and when things become chaotic, mistakes can happen. One of the highest priorities involves ensuring that medical waste is properly disposed of, and disorganization can wreak havoc in both safety and compliance. The costs associated with non-compliance goes beyond just financial and encroaches on the overall reputation, which can often take years to overcome.

Each facility needs to take a hard look at both the methods and their staff training when it comes to medical waste disposal. Everyone should be aware of exactly what waste goes into the ‘red bags’ so that they don’t fall prey to tossing standard trash in or making the mistake of putting medical waste in the standard trash. Explicit guidelines regarding waste disposal that are posted for employees to view and check is the first level of security.

Defining Medical Waste:

Medical waste is considered to be anything that contains significant amounts of blood, body fluids or OPIM’s (other potentially infectious materials. These can include: Saliva from dental work, cerebrospinal fluid, pericardial fluid, synovial fluid, amniotic fluid, peritoneal fluid, vaginal fluid or semen, and pleural fluid.

Medical waste also incorporates the materials that may be contaminated, including items that will release OPIM, semi-liquid or liquid; items with semi-liquid, liquid or OPIM, items with caked or dried blood or OPIM, sharps contaminated with OPIM or blood, microbiological or pathological wastes.

Check with your State to see if they have additional medical waste categories. Some have explicit rules regarding: Human blood and blood products, sharps, animal research wastes, cultures and stocks, and human pathological waste.

It should be noted that feces and urine are not medical waste. Such items as urine cups and diapers shouldn’t be placed in red bags. The same rule of thumb should be applied to soiled/non-bloodied gloves, tray and table covers, and the devices used for emptying and packaging medical vials.

All employees of the company should not only be trained on the disposal of medical wastes, but should have training updates to make sure that errors and mistakes are kept to a minimum.