If you’re a healthcare provider, you know that you must protect the public from dangerous pathogens, and that biomedical waste must be handled, transported, and disposed of properly, in accordance with state and federal regulations. It’s easy, however, to become complacent with your disposal practices. In this blog we discuss several medical waste disposal violations and how to avoid them.
Improper Waste Categorization and Segmentation
Although combining different types of medical waste may save time, doing so is a violation of state and federal regulations. Instead, all medical waste must be categorized as hazardous or non-hazardous and segmented for disposal into a specific container. Labels must be visible on all sides of waste containers and describe the category of waste.
“Red Bag” waste refers to medical waste containing liquid, semi-liquid or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). The red plastic bags that identify this type of waste should be of sufficient thickness to contain all waste and prevent leaks and tears.
“Sharps” waste includes the following items:
- Syringes, needles and lancets
- Culture slides and dishes
- Broken capillary tubes
- Exposed ends of dental wires and root canal files
Sharps should always be placed in puncture-resistant containers before being put in a red bag.
Trace chemotherapy waste should be placed in a yellow bag or container, while pharmaceutical waste that includes pills and antibiotics should always be disposed of in a black bag or container.
Improper Container Management
After medical waste is discarded in the appropriate containers, each container must be latched and closed. Failing to keep containers closed exposes the public to dangerous pathogens. As a result, it’s important to have a container management solution that ensures medical waste is secure and contained at all times.
Lack of Inspection
Under OSHA requirements, you must designate an employee to inspect your hazardous waste containers every week to ensure they aren’t compromised. The inspector must complete a document that fully discloses the inspection, and is signed with their initials and the date.
If you’re a small clinic or if you work within a limited budget, it may be tempting to self-transport medical waste to a disposal facility. However, doing so violates OSHA standards. You need a permit to transport fifty pounds or more of medical waste. Further, infectious waste must be transported in leak-proof, spill-proof, puncture resistant and reusable containers that have been approved by the Department of Transportation.
Poor Employee Training
According to state and federal law, your staff must be knowledgeable of the materials they handle, as well as how to categorize, package and transport them. Lack of employee training may violate state and federal standards during an audit.
A qualified medical waste disposal provider can provide certified compliance training for your staff, enabling your practice to comply with OSHA, HIPAA, HazCom, Sharps and state DOT requirements. Upon successful completion of certified compliance training, each participant receives a printable certificate.
Don’t ruin your practice’s reputation and financial well-being with a medical waste disposal violation. Follow these tips to help your organization stay compliant with state and federal laws.
River Mill Data Management provides medical waste disposal services to businesses in central and South Georgia, as well as select counties in eastern Alabama through its sister company, Med Away Disposal Services, which also services southeast Alabama. For more information, please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.