Clinical waste disposal – How should clinics handle the management of medical waste?
Clinical waste disposal is at the forefront of every medical waste management system. Every industry produces waste, but due to its potentially infectious nature, medical facilities need to adhere to much more strict international environmental regulations set up by the EU and the WHO. This of course includes hospitals, but even smaller clinics, like dentistries or veterinary offices.
In Celitron’s next article, we will discuss the basics of the clinical waste management process, as well as what on-site solutions can suit smaller clinics that have less available space and generate less waste compared to large hospitals!
What is clinical waste? Why is its disposal so important?
Any waste generated during clinical activities that have the potential to cause injury or infect other people can be qualified as clinical waste. This means that almost any potentially infectious material can be considered clinical waste, including bandages, textiles, papers, swabs, glass, plastic, and of course, disposable medical instruments and surgical equipment.
This also includes items contaminated by blood and bodily fluids, which can be especially dangerous because of their ability to easily transmit infectious diseases to other people.
This is even more of an issue in the case of sharps (any medical material that can cut or pierce the skin),which make up the most of infectious clinical waste generated each year. They are used at dental at veterinary clinics alike in the treatment of people and animals. As per the guidelines of the World Health Organization, sharps cannot be reused after the treatment of patients and must be disposed of in such a way that they reach an “unrecognizable” state.
The basics of clinical waste management – What to do before disposal
Before clinical disposal can occur, every waste management system needs to have solutions in place for:
- collecting the generated clinical waste
- storing the collected clinical waste
- transporting away the stored clinical waste
Clinical waste must be stored in appropriate, color-coded containers, just like regular municipal waste needs to be segregated to facilitate recycling. This helps staff identify what kind of waste they are dealing with and handle it accordingly.
For example, clinical sharps waste is usually stored in either red or yellow, puncture-proof containers marked with the universal biohazard symbol. One of the most important golden rules to follow apart from wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is to never overstuff your containers, as this can easily lead to injury or infection! Once a container is at ¾ of its capacity, it can be considered “full”.
After the clinical waste has been segregated in the right containers, these need to be stored in a separate storage area that is far off from any populated areas like patient wards, restrooms, waiting rooms, cafeterias etc. This is where it will remain until the disposal of clinical waste can occur.
Clinical waste disposal: on-site vs off-site solutions in a waste management system
The most traditional clinical waste disposal method consists of transporting it to an off-site location where it will usually end up destroyed via incineration. Incineration remains one of the most popular methods of eliminating waste, as it can destroy almost anything and leave it in an unrecognizable state, which is the standard procedure for many types of clinical waste.
However, certain disadvantages make off-site clinical waste disposal less than ideal, especially in the case of smaller clinics.
- Off-site disposal also means higher transportation costs, as you will need to hire a licensed company to handle waste that has yet to be rendered into a sterile state. Cleaning and disinfection aren’t nearly as reliable as high-temperature treatments.
- Off-site disposal is also generally less environmentally friendly due to air pollution risks associated with the incineration of clinical waste.
Even in the case of incinerators equipped with flue gas treatment – one that meets the standards of international environmental standards – the first disadvantage remains.
They are expensive, especially for the budget of smaller clinics.
On-site incinerators have much higher capital and operational costs compared to other on-site clinical waste disposal methods like autoclaves.
Not to mention that incorporating an on-site incinerator into the clinical waste management system of a dentistry or veterinary clinic is much less practical due to the sheer amount of space and work it requires to be made operational.
Clinical waste disposal options from Celitron – Ideal for smaller clinics as well
Celitron is proud to be offering on-site clinical waste disposal options to medical facilities of all sizes and helping in making non-incineration technologies accessible worldwide. Our autoclaves and medical waste disposal plants are present in over 80 countries.
Compared to incinerators, autoclaves are more cost-effective and in line with the environmental guidelines of the EU and the WHO. Celitron’s autoclaves use a powerful vacuum pump to suck all the air out of the steam sterilizer’s chamber, resulting in a faster, more reliable steam sterilization process that can treat more complex loads as well, including textile items, porous loads, as well as wrapped and unwrapped instruments.
Autoclaves also serve a dual purpose which is especially useful for smaller clinics. Apart from sterilizing waste, they can also sterilize medical tools used in the treatment of patients, which can then be reused without any risk of infection.
Apart from large autoclaves for hospitals, we also offer more moderately sized options for clinics that don’t generate as much medical waste and have less available space dedicated to treating waste and medical tools.
Here are the on-site solutions we recommend for clinical waste disposal:
- Azteca AC medium steam sterilizer for dental and veterinary clinics
- Sting 11B tabletop autoclave for small clinics
- ISS – Integrated Sterilizer and Shredder for clinical sharps disposal (also available with smaller, 25 liter capacity chamber)
If you’re looking for a cost-effective, reliable clinical waste disposal solution that doesn’t take up too much space, then you will be more than satisfied with Celitron’s autoclaves for dental and veterinary clinics. Regardless of size, they offer the same high-grade performance that is expected of the most modern new generation, class B steam sterilizers on the market.
If you have any questions about the models we provide, be sure to CONTACT US! Our team will get back to you as soon as possible and provide you with a free quote as well!