The medical community typically takes all of the extra steps and precautions for the removal of medical waste. There are usually in-house instructions, guidelines and protocols that must be followed and all staff are required to comply as well as maintain educational information for updates and changes. But as we know, medical offices of all kinds are incredibly busy and sometimes the protocols can be accidently or purposely omitted. It’s important for the medical organization and employees to understand that there are potential consequences for improper medical waste disposal, and some could be severely detrimental.
Legal ramifications may be one of the most confusing when it comes to waste disposal. While there are various federal and state government requirements on how a company is required to dispose of medical waste, the medical organization themselves are solely responsible. This means that even if you think you are disposing of the medical waste properly, if you aren’t aware of all of the laws and rules, you can be held liable.
This topic can then extend into additional areas of legality as it pertains to blame for injury to patients, staff or even the community due to improper medical waste disposal. It can cascade into a complete spaghetti mess of lawsuits that even medical malpractice insurance may not cover.
As you move though the topic of potential life-threatening risks that your patients or staff may be exposed to via improper medical waste disposal this can then encroach on whether there was adequate OSHA training to avoid the incidents. Medical waste comes in so many variations from radioactive supplies to infectious sharp objects, each of which can cause personal injury and even death for patients and/or staff.
The community in which the medical organization resides relies on the expertise and knowledge of the company to maintain proper medical waste disposal. Only rarely does an organization try to take the ‘cheap way out’ in an attempt towards financial gain. The dangers of mishandled medical waste can wreak havoc on the environment and the population of the community. Past cases of these situations have included: infectious blood being disposed of in landfills, syringes washing up on beaches, pathogens contaminating fresh air and healthy drinking water supplies.
All medical organizations do everything that they can to maintain the highest reputation. Their patients and the community turn to them as bastions of honesty. Any organization that doesn’t dispose of their medical waste properly risks the complete and total destruction of their reputation and the belief and trust of all. Regaining a reputation is not an easy task and for those that have chosen the path of mishandling medical waste disposal, it has often resulted in destroying their business.