Medical Waste Disposal: Understanding the Stages

The multi-step process of medical waste disposal, transport and treatment is a complex process. Few companies nationwide can say they handle medical waste from start to finish…however at MedSharps, we can say this with pride. While the collection of medical waste comes from a variety of facilities, including hospitals, doctor’s offices, veterinarian clinics, and many other types of companies, there are strict compliance regulations that apply to all medical waste generators that must be adhered to by both the facility and the transport and treating provider.

 

Keep reading below as we break down each stage of the medical waste disposal process and explain the steps taken to remain compliant with the regulations surrounding the waste collection, transportation, treatment and disposal.

Stage 1: Waste Generation by Customer

The medical waste cycle begins through waste generation. Businesses, organizations and individuals can generate multiple types of medical waste in a variety of ways. Let’s start by understanding the different types of medical waste:

  • Regulated Medical Waste (RMW): Also referred to as infectious medical waste or biohazardous waste, this type of waste can easily lead to infections through transfer or saturation of blood.
  • Medical Sharps: Discarded needles used to give shots, administer medications, and/or draw blood.
  • Pharmaceutical Waste: Expired or unused hazardous and non-hazardous medications including but not limited to controlled substances regulated by the DEA.
  • Hazardous Chemicals: Any chemical, including cleaning fluids, that requires a MSDS sheet for disposal.
  • Chemotherapeutic Waste: Materials that have come in contact or contain residual amount of a chemotherapy agent.

A variety of federal and state agencies govern and direct different phases of the medical waste disposal cycle. For instance, OSHA (Occupational Safety Health and Administration) oversees waste that contains bloodborne pathogens, while the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) is the governing body of pharmaceutical disposal.

 

Stage 2: Onsite & Accurate Segmentation of Waste Trained Professionals

To protect the safety of all individuals involved in the medical waste disposal process, it’s important that anyone handling the waste is properly trained and understands the importance of correctly segmenting the waste. This is done by sorting the waste at the point of generation into specialized containers dedicated to each type of medical waste. For example, RMW waste may be segmented into secure red bags and placed inside larger containers, while other types of medical waste are sorted directly into hard shell containers, such as needles and sharps.

 

Stage 3: Secure Pickup and Transfer by Waste Containers

When a container is filled and ready for pickup, our licensed, trained and certified professionals will safely retrieve and transfer the waste to the MedSharps waste management facility. To ensure a safe transfer, it is imperative to secure and fasten each container to prevent any spillage or overflow. There should be no visible sign of the medical waste once the containers have been sealed shut.

For individual’s utilizing MedSharp’s Mail-Back Program, be sure to follow the provided packaging directions and adhere to postal requirements specified by  the United States Postal Service (USPS).

 

Stage 4: Treatment of the Waste in MedSharps State-of-the Art Autoclaves 

Following transportation to our waste management facility, all medical waste materials will be handled by licensed, trained and certified MedSharps professionals. Treatment of the waste is required and conducted in one of MedSharp’s state-of-the-art autoclaves utilizing biohazard bins. The autoclave uses heat to kill microorganisms, spores, pathogens and other bacteria found in medical waste. It is then prepared to be transferred to it’s final destination in the last step of the medical waste process.

 

Stage 5: Transportation of Treated Waste to Landfills or WTE (Waste-to-Energy Facility)

The final stop in our medical waste disposal process is transportation of the treated waste to a pre-defined landfill or WTE (waste-to-energy facility). Waste that arrives at the WTE gets transmuted into serviceable electricity. The procedure for WTE engages calculated designed broilers that burn up the non-threatening waste in a closed-off coil system. This produces steam that powers turbines and in turn generates electricity. From there, the electricity gets transported to regional utility businesses to power homes and companies.

As outlined above, proper medical waste disposal is comprised of multiple stages that require extreme attention to detail to ensure the safety of all involved.  Each stage is just as important (and necessary) as the next, and required by regulations and compliance laws.

 

Interested in learning more? Contact a MedSharps professional for a free quote and customizable solution to your medical waste disposal needs.

 

How Proper Biohazard Medical Waste Disposal Protects the Texas Coast from Shocking Dangers

Earlier this month, hundreds of syringes and needles washed up on the Jersey Shore, forcing beachgoers from the water. Investigations determined that it was the result of people flushing medical supplies, such as those for diabetes.
Biohazard medical waste disposal is vital to protecting the environment and the people who inhabit it. These materials can otherwise end up in lakes and parks, causing harm to animals and plants. They also can contaminate groundwater and the air, causing health problems or even death.
The information below will tell you everything you need to know about biohazard removal, disposal, and treatment. It also provides some tips on things you can do to keep these tragedies from happening in your community.

Biohazard Basics
A biohazard is a material that contains blood, body fluids, or human or animal cell lines. They can contaminate the environment and threaten public health.
Medical waste is a specific type of biohazard. It refers to discarded medical supplies from laboratories or clinical settings.
Biohazard waste can pollute oceans, lakes, and streams. It can seep from landfills into groundwater, which can affect drinking water sources. Burning medical waste in incinerators produces toxic fumes that can pollute the air.

Biohazard Medical Waste Disposal
The complete biohazard management regimen involves several steps. The first is cleaning up the materials. Medical waste disposal companies will know what precautions to take and the equipment needed for safe cleanup.
They also will be able to safely transport medical waste. Next, they will separate the toxic materials from harmless ones. Medical waste disposal companies can then determine storage and disposal methods.

What Can I Do?
There are some very basic things you can do to make your home or business safe from biohazards. One is properly storing them before disposal.
First, get the proper holder, such as a sharps container for needles and syringes. Be sure to keep them away from small children. When the container is three-quarters full, dispose of it according to community guidelines.
Most local health or waste management departments will have collection sites or drop boxes. These include doctors’ offices, hospitals, pharmacies, or even police or fire stations. Some areas have the option of mailing containers to collection agencies.
These easy biohazard medical waste disposal steps can keep harmful materials out of landfills, water sources, and the air. You can feel good knowing that you have done your part to help protect the environment and public health.

Find Proper Medical Waste Disposal Near You
Now that you have an idea of what biohazardous waste is, you take precautions to handle it and know when to call a professional. If you face a major biohazard accident, be sure to contact a prominent company that has a history of medical waste cleanup.
Since 2008, MedSharps has provided biohazard medical waste disposal and treatment services to communities throughout the country. We pride ourselves on attention to detail and safety. Reach out to us today for more information or to schedule service.

A Guide to Autoclaves in the Medical Waste Industry

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. has used over 390 million tests. Plus, an average of 167 million COVID-19 vaccinations. But what happens to the medical waste and how is it safely disposed of?  The disposal of hazardous waste goes through a medical waste sterilizer before it goes to the landfill. An autoclave for waste disposal destroys bacteria through pressurized steam.
Learn more about autoclaving biological waste in the medical industry here.

What Is an Autoclave for Waste Disposal? 
An autoclave is a sterilization machine that uses heat to kill microorganisms and spores. They are typically used in healthcare industries. That’s because the majority of waste from a hospital setting contains biohazard or infectious material. Biohazard material can threaten human and animal life if not properly disposed of. That’s why a waste autoclave machine is an important process to treat waste before its final disposal. Most medical waste autoclave manufacturers have the training to provide the safe removal of your waste products.

What Is the Process of Autoclaving Biological Waste?
First, medical waste goes into a biohazard bin that goes inside the autoclave. Next, the autoclave fills with pressure and steam for a set period of time. This can be between 30 minutes to an hour depending on state regulations. The steam must also reach a certain temperature to kill bacteria. On average, this will be between 250° to 300°F. Afterward, the pressure releases and the temperature returns to its original setting. Now, the waste is sterile and can go into regular landfills.

What Types of Medical Waste Can Be Autoclaved? 
Autoclaves are designed to sterilize regulated medical waste. That means anything that has contaminates of blood, fluids, or infectious materials. These include:

  • Used bandages
  • Gauzes
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Used or contaminated sharps (needles, syringes, and scalpels)

Containers of sharps that are also contaminated can go through the autoclaving process. But they must be FDA-approved and only hold biohazardous sharps. Failing to label or mislabel medical waste containers can lead to significant consequences. And potential damage to the environment.

The Disposal of Hazardous Waste: What Can’t Be Autoclaved? 
Some medical waste is not suitable for autoclaving. This is because the 250° to 300°F heat is designed to process bacterial waste. Materials that you should not autoclave include:

  • Radioactive materials
  • Corrosive chemicals
  • Chemotherapy waste
  • Some expired medications
  • Pathological waste

It’s important to abide by regulations on medical waste and know what materials are suited and not suited to autoclaving.

Try MedSharps Medical Waste Sterilizer Services Today 
An autoclave for waste disposal is the safest and most effective way to rid medical waste. Do you need help with the disposal of hazardous waste? Are you tired of looking for a medical waste autoclave for sale online? Try Medsharps. They are your regulated medical waste experts. We provide our medical waste sterilizer service straight to you. We will pick up your waste in our biohazard containers. Then transport it directly to our autoclaving biological waste treatment facility.
Don’t risk improper medical waste disposal, contact us today.

Vaccinations and Medical Waste: The Facts You Need to Know

In a normal year, 16 billion injections are administered around the world. That makes up for a lot of medical waste. Unfortunately, not all of the used syringes and needles end up in proper medical waste disposal facilities.
Imagine the increase in medical waste following over a year of COVID testing and vaccines. If you know how to dispose of medical waste, but find yourself overwhelmed following the roll-out of the COVID vaccine, you’re not alone.
Vaccinations and medical waste are nothing new to medical facilities, but this past year we’ve all faced many ups and downs. Many non-urgent procedures did not happen or were postponed but now things are ramping up again and millions of people are getting the vaccine.
Stick with us and we’ll lead you through information on the dramatic increase in medical waste due to COVID-19 and what is being done to take care of it properly.

Vaccine Packaging 
The packaging that the vaccine arrives in at your facility goes into regular medical waste. Some manufacturers have specific rules, however. The box that holds the vial trays and related packaging materials from the Pfizer vaccine needs to be returned to Pfizer to help them with their commitment to reusable resources.
Healthcare providers and waste management companies need to follow these protocols to remain compliant and should check with the manufacturers for additional instructions.

Syringes and Empty Vials 
Used syringes go into a disposable or reusable sharps container and get disposed of as regulated medical waste. They are either picked up or need to be mailed to a medical waste facility.
The Department of Defense recommends that you put empty vials in sharps containers also to help “mitigate potential diversion and illicit intent.” At this point, treat them as regulated medical waste just like the syringes.

Full or Partial Vials 
If you have full vials that have been compromised and cannot be administered or residual doses (partial vials), they need to be managed as regulated medical waste or non-hazardous pharmaceutical waste.

Additional Medical Waste
Besides the needles and the vials, additional medical waste includes gauze, gloves, cotton balls, bandages, masks, and other personal protective equipment.
These items don’t belong in a sharps container and can usually be disposed of as regular trash. In cases where they contain potentially infectious materials, they go in regulated medical waste containers.

Vaccinations and Medical Waste 
With the increase in COVID vaccinations and medical waste, make sure that you’re staying in compliance and properly disposing of vaccine-related waste to keep your healthcare workers safe.
We at MedSharps can offer you a comprehensive solution for the removal, treatment, and disposal of medical waste and biohazard waste. At MedSharps, we have licensed and certified employees that are trained to provide safe, sanitary, and efficient medical waste removal and disposal.
We also offer HIPPA compliant paper document shredding and e-waste destruction services. Contact us today.

PPE in the Workplace: 5 Important Steps of Proper PPE Disposal

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is now a part of daily life. If you’ve implemented a personal protective equipment plan in your workplace, you’re likely searching for guidelines for proper PPE disposal. While it’s something else for operations leaders to focus on, PPE in the workplace is proven to be effective.

A recent study looked at 100 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 and measured the presence of the virus in droplet and aerosol form. When patients were wearing masks, they didn’t exhale any coronavirus aerosols or droplets, adding to the body of evidence asserting that wearing masks effectively prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Now that you know you must put a protective equipment plan into action, how are you planning to handle PPE disposal?

Keep reading to learn more about using PPE in the workplace and best practices when disposing of the contaminated materials.

What Is Personal Protective Equipment?

Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is worn to minimize one’s exposure to hazards that can cause serious workplace illnesses and injuries.

These illnesses and injuries may result from contact with radiological, chemical, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other hazards. PPE may include safety glasses, gloves, earplugs or muffs, respirators, hard hats, coveralls, full body suits, and vests.

Ensuring Proper Use

All PPE should be safely designed and constructed and maintained reliably and cleanly.

PPE should fit comfortably to encourage worker use. If it doesn’t fit properly, it can mean the difference between being adequately and safely covered or severely exposed.

When work practices, engineering, and administrative controls do not provide sufficient protection, you must provide PPE to your employees and ensure that they use it properly.

You’re also required to train workers who must use personal protective equipment to know:

  • What kind is necessary
  • When it is necessary
  • How to properly put it on, wear, adjust, and take it off
  • Limitations of the PPE
  • Proper maintenance and care, useful life, and disposal

If you implement a plan to use PPE in your work environment, a program should be executed. It should address the hazards present in the workplace, the selection and use of PPE, employee training, and the plan’s monitoring to ensure ongoing effectiveness.

Implement Best Practices

Once you’ve created your PPE plan, purchase your equipment, and put it into action. It’s time to implement best practices and observe your employees and improve your plan down the road if needed.

Ensure Good Fit

First, work with your employees to ensure they know how PPE is designed to fit. If they misuse it, it won’t effectively protect the employee and those around them.

Take the time to measure each member of your team and identify which type of PPE they’ll need. When more than one type is required, make sure each item is compatible with the others.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has put forth engineering guidelines around various hazards found on job sites. Make sure you purchase PPE that adheres to these standards.

Invest in Automated Vending Machines

Make it easy for your employees to purchase or access PPE by installing PPE vending machines. Sure, the cost upfront is more, but you’ll save money, time and possibly lives in the long run.

Train your employees on how to use the machines, so they don’t waste any PPE. You’ll also need to designate an employee or team to manage the machines, so they’re always stocked and running properly.

Audit Your Equipment Continuously

Personal protective equipment is the last line of defense for you and your employees. For this reason, respect your PPE regularly to be sure it is effective at all times.

Some employees will be stubborn about wearing PPE, so instead of punishing them for not wearing it properly, ask what the problem is. Sometimes equipment makes it uncomfortable or difficult to do their job. Maybe there is something more practical and wearable that will do the job.

Create a Safety Culture Around PPE

Eventually, safe PPE practices should become part of your company’s culture. Don’t just train your employees on how to wear it, but communicate why PPE is important.

And don’t stop there. Look for new opportunities to allow your workers to guide and mentor their peers in a positive manner. Consider a PPE donning activity during a company talk or new employee mentorship program.

Perform Regular Inspections

PPE isn’t designed to last forever. You regularly audit and inspect other areas of your business for safety, so it’s equally important to conduct these regular inspections of your personal protective equipment.

Safe PPE Disposal

If personal protective equipment isn’t disposed of correctly, it can introduce more harm than good.

Imagine an employee touching potentially contaminated PPE and then going about their day, touching door handles and other surfaces. All of a sudden, the disease runs rampant throughout your organization.

The World Health Organization recommends that gloves, face masks, and paper tissues should be hygienically disposed of in a closed bin once removed safely.

Set your employees up for success by making sure you have the right facilities in place for PPE disposal:

  • Show employees and visitors that you care by offering easy PPE disposal at your workplace
  • Incorporate touch-free closed bins for high standards of hygiene
  • Treat each unit with EPA registered, hospital-grade disinfectant to kill potentially harmful viruses
  • Place disposal points throughout high-traffic areas of your facility, such as entrance and exit points, parking garages, near elevators, kitchens, lobbies, and more.

Consult OSHA Guidelines

OSHA’s Safety Health and Program Management Guidelines provide recommendations for you to consider as you build your PPE program. The guidelines cover four main areas, including:

  • Management leadership and employee involvementÂ
  • Worksite analysis
  • Safety and health training
  • Hazard prevention and control

Are You Well-Stocked With Workplace PPE?

All businesses should review their current PPE disposal procedures to ensure they’re taking appropriate steps to manage risk and hazards.

Stay one step ahead and ensure that your business is adequately protected with all of the necessary hygienic facilities onsite. Then do your due diligence to dispose of contaminated PPE properly with MedSharps.

If you’re not a current MedSharps customer and would like to request a free quote, fill out our online form or call. (888) 620-4899 today.