Medical Waste Disposal: What Are the Challenges?
If you don’t follow proper medical waste disposal procedures, there could be serious consequences. There’s the obvious, such as the danger to your patients, staff and the community. There could also be consequences to your facility, even if no one was hurt. There could be fines or a loss in reputation that will affect your business. That is why it’s so vital to choose the right company to help with your biohazard waste removal. Here are some of the challenges faced when disposing of medical waste.
Medical Waste Disposal Methods
For the most part, medical facilities are pretty good at disposing of their medical waste in the proper way. However, some facilities may not have trained their staff fully or correctly. Often these are the smaller clinics that may not be able to invest the time or the money. However, by not spending that money, they are leaving themselves open to financial penalties that could be even worse. Too often waste could be placed in the wrong containers. Even worse, staff might put something down the drain without realizing that it is a potentially dangerous medical waste.
Your facility should be inspected on a set schedule to make sure all the proper procedures are being followed. There are times when medical waste is generated by a place that is not a medical facility. This might mean at a workplace where someone has a severe cut or injury that bleeds a lot. There may be leftover bloody rags or towels. This material may be contaminated but it almost always ends up with the regular trash since they do not normally deal with biohazard waste. Many businesses that are open to the public do have sharps containers, often in the bathrooms. Without proper training on procedures for safe handling, employees may end up tossing the container in the regular trash, thinking that it is safe.
Effects of Dumping Hazardous Waste Improperly
It is amazing to think that a large hospital can generate around a ton of biohazard waste each day. These items include blood-soaked rags, sharps, items with bodily fluid on them, and even garbage from the cafeteria that has touched the mouths of patients. Dumping all this waste illegally could cause a major public health issue and expose many people to infections and diseases. By some estimates, improperly handled medical waste may have caused as much as 12% of the world’s HIV cases. That is an incredibly high figure. Burning the waste is also not a solution for medical waste disposal. Toxins from the waste will get into the air and can be inhaled by the public. Putting medical waste into the trash can also be dangerous for any sanitation workers or scavengers who might come in contact with it.
As mentioned, facilities that mishandle medical waste leave themselves open to fines and other repercussions. For a small facility, a $70,000 fine or higher could be enough to put it out of business. Ignorance is not considered an excuse for illegal dumping. Even if you did not know that something was medical waste and disposed of it improperly, your company may incur a fine.
As you can see, there are many challenges associated with disposing of medical waste. The best way to avoid these challenges is to hire a reputable medical waste disposal company to handle the waste for you to make sure you are compliant.