NEWS: What is Medical Waste? Definition, Types, Examples & More
Medical waste is a broad term for items that were used in medical procedures that came in contact with a person’s body fluids. A more specific definition is the waste or trash that’s produced after any treatment, diagnosis, or immunization of people.
Previously, all waste and trash produced in operating rooms would end up in the same garbage cans as everything else. This method was a health risk that could potentially spread disease and cause outbreaks, and proper medical waste removal methods have been enacted since.
Today, we’ll talk about the different sorts of medical waste and the best ways to deal with their removal.
Types of Medical Waste
Like we said, medical waste is a very broad term. There are multiple sub-categories of medical waste that have to be treated differently when they’re being disposed of. The different types can include, but aren’t limited to, the following:
Infectious waste: These mostly involve samples of potentially infectious objects that have come into contact with medical equipment like swabs, wipes, equipment, etc.
Pharmaceuticals: This involves all sorts of medication that are unused and have expired. It can involve pills, injectable fluids, and strong anti-biotics.
Sharps: As the name suggests, these include sharp objects that may have been used in injection or incisions. These include syringes, pins, scalpels, wires, and even broken glass.
Radioactive: Glassware with liquids and solutions used in radiotherapy.
Chemical: Heavy-duty disinfectants, mercury from thermometers, and any solution or solvent that is inorganic
Pathological: Human waste, blood, tissue substance, and any other body fluid.
Treating Medical Waste
There are a few ways to properly treat medical waste to make it safe for disposal. The most widely used way is to simply incinerate most of the waste. This is especially helpful for pathological and other organic waste.
For other types of waste, you can use methods like microwaving for hazardous waste and autoclaving for biohazardous waste to sterilize the substance. Chemical treatment can be used to neutralize other chemicals and enzymes for biological substances.
Handling Medical Waste
There are a number of things you have to be cognizant of when getting rid of this waste. It can be too easy to simply treat all the hazardous waste as one. Proper separation and documentation are necessary to deal with medical waste.