How to safely dispose of medical waste
Whether you run a large public hospital or small private medical practice, you have a responsibility to ensure your staff and patients come and go in a safe environment.
Part of that challenge is the safe storage and disposal of all medical waste accumulated in your day-to-day operations. Here are a few procedural tips to help you maintain a safe environment.
By necessity your medical waste has to spend time stored onsite before it can be safely removed in certified transport. There is specific legislation to deal with this and to ensure medical waste is neither offensive nor dangerous to staff, patients and visitors while it remains on your premises. All sharp waste must be disposed of in puncture-proof, leak-proof containers strong enough to handle the rigours of transportation. Once full, all containers must have appropriate contents and biohazard labelling attached and is stored in a secured room with industrial cleaners and disinfectants nearby in case of spillages.
There are two options here. You can organise your own waste transport and disposal as long as you get the necessary medical waste disposal licensing first. Or if you'd rather leave it to someone else, simply arrange regular collection by a medical waste transport company licensed by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA). Either way all medical waste must be incinerated or disposed of at a solid waste landfill according to strict guidelines. Incineration can only be carried out at a site licensed by your local regulatory authority to deal safely with medical waste. Likewise, only appropriately licensed landfill sites can receive medical waste and this must be dealt with very specifically to ensure there is no chance of contact with the public. Basically that means dumping it in a specially excavated hole and immediately covering it with other waste or clean fill.
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The procedures for dealing with medical waste are deliberately strict and designed to minimise risk. They do, however, place considerable responsibility on you as a medical practice. The best way to ensure you meet all the requirements and operate according to approved practices is to enlist the services of a medical waste expert.