How to dispose of medical waste? This is a question every single medical facility in the world needs to be able to answer. Fortunately, there are many available solutions out there that allow hospitals and clinics to ensure the safety of their staff and patients, as well as the environment.
According to Celitron Medical Technologies, there are 3 essential steps to follow when disposing of medical waste. No matter the method chosen, this is usually how the medical waste management process goes:
How to dispose of medical waste – Step number 1
The first step in disposing of medical waste always starts when the waste itself is generated. This covers the collection, as well as the segregation of the different types of biomedical waste. There are different categories of clinical waste, and they cannot be thrown out like regular trash: you will need to use special, colour-coded containers to collect and segregate medical waste.
Medical waste containers are usually colour-coded in the following way:
- Yellow: to dispose of chemotherapy waste
- Yellow with a radioactive symbol: to dispose of anything that could have come into contact with radioactive materials
- Red: to dispose of medical sharps like needles and blades
- Red with a biohazard symbol: to dispose of infectious medical waste like equipment contaminated by blood
- Blue: to dispose of pharmaceutical waste collection like medical pills and antibiotics
- Black: to dispose of hazardous medical waste like expired drugs and vaccines
How to dispose of medical waste – Step number 2
After it has been appropriately collected and segregated, and before the medical waste can be disposed of, it needs to be stored and prepped for transportation.
Storage is essential whenever disposing of medical waste in bulk. All medical waste containers need to be stored in a well-separated area that is far from any place used for the consumption of drinks and food. This is to reduce the risks of infection to medical staff and patients as much as possible while the medical waste is still present at the site of the hospital or clinic.
To get the waste off of their site, most medical facilities make use of the services of licensed waste removal companies who will still need to exercise great caution when moving highly infectious waste. Until the waste has been treated, it is still a source of risk for the environment. This includes autoclaving (steam sterilization) and medical waste shredding.
How to dispose of medical waste – Step number 3
So how to dispose of medical waste? There are two main ways to do so: offsite and onsite methods.
Offsite medical waste disposal solutions include the use of licensed waste removal companies who will transport the waste to its final disposal site at select landfills, where it will most probably be destroyed by incinerators.
Onsite medical waste disposal solutions are usually more safe and cost-effective, since the waste can immediately be treated at the site of the medical facility, and thus presents a lot less risk during storage and transportation since the waste isn’t infectious anymore.