A bag containing used syringes

Statistics reveal that the world’s waste generation has drastically increased over the last few decades, and by 2050, solid waste generation worldwide is expected to reach 3.4 billion tons. Numerous factors such as economic growth, urbanization, and population growth are contributing to the increase in waste.

Since we’re all generating more waste, it’s only natural that hospitals are also creating more garbage. Most hospitals are responsible for tons of medical waste. The trash is so severe that it has given rise to an industry known as medical waste management. According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the costs of medical waste management soared from 10 billion in 2015 to 13.3 billion in 2020. Experts believe that the number will continue to rise unless the hospitals adopt the best practices for dealing with medical waste.

What is Medical Waste?

Medical waste refers to trash that can be infectious. Hospitals, laboratories, and testing all produce waste when dealing with medical procedures, experiments, and trials. This waste can be both hazardous and non-hazardous. Studies show that approximately 15 percent of all medical waste is precarious.

The United States Code cites medical waste containing isolation wastes, human blood and other bodily fluids, dialysis residues, sharps, body parts, and more.

Categories of Medical Waste

There are two categories for medical waste: red bags and sharps. Red bags refer to receptacles containing blood or other potentially infectious materials. On the other hand, sharps refer to sharps containers housing hypodermic needles, scalpels, etc. Sharps must be disposed of in separate containers because they can puncture regular containers, causing contamination.

Risks of Medical Waste

Handling medical waste disposal according to the set guidelines is vital. Otherwise, there’s a high risk of infection for healthcare workers and patients. One of the most significant concerns is disease transmission via contaminated sharps. According to the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration, there are 5.6 million workers in the healthcare industry and related occupations who are at risk of exposure to blood-borne pathogens through spiked devices such as scalpels, sutures, hypodermic needles, etc. 

There’s also a risk to the masses if healthcare facilities don’t perform waste disposal appropriately because the toxic and infectious trash can end up in landfills, causing contamination. There are also risks of improper disposal causing groundwater to become tainted.

Universal Precautions

Universal precautions are a set of strategies that regulatory organizations have devised to control the spread of infection. These strategies detail the risks of handling bodily fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and cerebrospinal fluid. OSHA’s Occupational and Safety Health Standard guidelines state that all medical professionals must treat these fluids as potentially infectious since they can transmit diseases like HIV, Hepatitis, Staph infections, and Strep infections.

Moreover, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention also lists some precautions for medical professionals to follow on their website should they come into contact with these bodily fluids. The precautions include wearing personal protective equipment, such as face masks, gloves, barrier gowns, and protective eyewear.

A nurse pictured in PPE

 

Disposing of Medical Waste

Medical waste disposal can be challenging because the process requires extensive documentation and adherence to state and local guidelines. Guidelines aren’t uniform and vary from state to state, which is why most hospitals and other medical facilities hire medical waste removal services to help them dispose of their waste.

Get Assistance from a Professional Medical Waste Disposal Company

If your healthcare facility has medical waste piling up, it’s time to enlist the help of a medical waste disposal company. Medical Systems is a medical waste company operating in Denver, Colorado. We assist healthcare facilities with collection and removal. Moreover, we specialize in pharmaceutical waste management and assist local medical facilities with infectious and biohazard waste disposal

Contact us today to learn how we can help your facility manage waste.

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