Spending less on medical waste disposal can be simple.
The number one goal of medical or biohazard waste management is to keep everyone safe. By properly disposing of this waste you minimize the risk of disease being transmitted in the facility. However, since disposing of medical waste can cost five to eight times more than solid waste, it pays to do it properly and carefully. Below are some easy steps you can take to make sure you don’t over spend on medical waste disposal.
1. Defining Medical Waste at Your Facility
First and foremost you need to define regulated medical waste at your facility. Is it different for your state than another? Find out first. Then, find out if your facility has even more strict regulations which can sometimes be the case. From there, define exactly what constitutes medical waste and what does not. Develop a plan for what an employee is supposed to do if they are unsure if something is considered red bag waste or not. This way, the instinct won’t necessarily be to throw everything into the red bag causing you to have to pay more to dispose of the extra waste.
2. What Do You Currently Spend?
Next, find out what you currently spend on medical waste disposal. Find your contract and look up the date it began. No matter how long you’ve been with a vendor, if you feel you are overspending then it may be time to research an alternative. It never hurts to ask around. Find out what your colleagues are paying medical waste disposal vendors to dispose of their waste.
In addition, consider how often you have your waste picked up. Could you potentially get fewer pickups and stacking a full box or storing somewhere safe and appropriate? Sometimes getting fewer pickups will save you money because it cuts down on gas spent on trips to and from your facility.
3. Set Goals and Develop a Plan
What are your goals? Is it to retrain your staff to the updated, clear definition of medical waste? Is it to research other potential vendors and collect quotes? Set your goals and develop a plan to achieve them. Give yourself due dates and, if necessary, delegate some of the work to your employees. Especially if they work in these situations every day, they may even have questions you haven’t thought of. Ask them!
4. Keep it Simple Stupid
Now that you have clearly defined medical waste for your facility, place the definition somewhere clearly visible and somewhere employees will see it regularly. Does your biohazard waste disposal vendor provide you with a waste segregation poster? Something like this with reminders of the types of waste can be helpful to place directly above regulated medical waste containers.
5. Be Prepared for Problems
There will be questions. That is okay! You may run into issues you didn’t expect. That’s okay too. Maybe you find a vendor you really like but find out you’re stuck in your current contract. Talk to the potential vendor about how you can still make the switch. Maybe your employees are reluctant to the updated definition of medical waste or any extra steps they may have to take such as attending an inservice. Remind them that this is ultimately for their safety and the safety of those around them. Plus, with the money you save, maybe you can reward your employees with lunch one day or surprise coffee one morning.
Change can be tough. Work to develop a good relationship with your medical waste vendor in case problems do arise and they will be happy to help you. Develop written instructions for how the waste is to be managed from now on in case any questions arise.
6. Reward Success
For these changes to truly be successful, you should reward successes! A sustainable change needs a strong leader and employees who are not only on board but are advocates for the change. Track progress by seeing if you cut down on the frequency you need containers picked up. Did you task each employee with finding one waste dispoal quote? See who got the lowest quote and give them a prize. Has everyone really taken to implementing the new definition of medical waste? Reward them with snacks or ask them what they would most enjoy as a reward. Another great way to reward your entire facility for their committment to these changes is to apply for an environmental excellence award with Practice Greenhealth.
How have you worked to cut down your medical waste disposal spend? Share with us in the comments section below!