If your practice generates any amount of medical waste, then you’re aware there are definitive rules and regulations as to how said waste is stored, handled, and disposed of. But what you may not know is how much it will cost you should you improperly dispose of your medical waste.
Where some practices get confused, and easily so, is assuming the only guidelines that must be followed are the ones set forth by OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogen Standard. Not so. There are numerous state (check your state’s guidelines) and federal agencies that regulate medical waste.
On the federal level, other agencies with guidelines regarding the handling of medical waste include:
- The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) rules for the packaging and transportation of wastes
- The Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) regulations for handling and disposing of controlled substances such as narcotics
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is responsible for regulating most federal programs and laws concerning human health and the environment, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA)
- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) radioactive waste management practices
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recommendations on disposing of unused medications
- OSHA’s guidelines for worker safety, waste labeling, and handling, including procedures as defined by the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard
Again, on top of these federal agencies’ regulations, many states have their own laws for handling and disposing medical waste. It’s critical you understand your local laws so you may ensure compliancy at all times.
Okay, So What is it Gonna Cost You?
Assessing the penalties of medical waste disposal violations is not an exact science because most are handled on a case-by-case basis. Typically, and depending on the severity, most violations will cost anywhere between $5,000 and $70,000 EACH. This cost DOES NOT include fines from the other agencies we listed, or from your local authorities.
Here are some real examples of providers being fined, just to drill home the point:
- In 2016, Twelve University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) hospitals were found in violation of medical waste disposal procedures by Pennsylvania’s State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The result? $451,000 in fines after red bags full of untreated medical waste were found in a landfill.
- New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) charged Cheshire Medical Center for violating proper medical waste procedures in November 2015. The facility failed to identify certain pharmaceutical wastes as hazardous and dispose of them properly. The result? $200,000 in fines!
Don’t Leave Compliance to Chance
As you can see, some of these fines are incredibly hefty. The best thing you can do to ensure compliance is to work with a medical waste disposal company that stays up-to-date on all state and federal regulations so you don’t have to.
MedPro Disposal if fully equipped to meet your waste disposal needs. Give us a call today.
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