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.