Medical waste autoclaves: turning hazardous to harmless! How steam sterilizers are revolutionizing healthcare waste disposal
One way healthcare facilities are revolutionizing healthcare waste disposal is by using medical waste autoclaves.
Medical waste is any waste generated by healthcare facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and laboratories, that may be potentially infectious or hazardous to human health and the environment. This waste can include sharps, such as needles and syringes, as well as any medical equipment that has been contaminated by blood or other bodily fluids. As such, it is subject to strict regulations governing its disposal.
In Celitron’s next article, we will explore how medical waste autoclaves work, their benefits, and how they can help healthcare facilities meet the standards of environmental and medical regulations.
What is a medical waste autoclave?
A medical waste autoclave is a device that uses steam and pressure to sterilize healthcare waste in hospitals and clinics before it is disposed of. This “steam sterilization” process kills all microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, making the waste safe for disposal.
The sterilized waste can then be safely disposed of like regular municipal waste without the need for specialized hazardous waste transporting services. Apart from waste, these machines can also sterilize medical equipment such as surgical tools which can then be reused without any risk of infection.
From hazardous – to harmless!
But how does this all work in practice?
How does a medical waste autoclave work?
Medical waste autoclaves work by using high-pressure steam to sterilize healthcare waste. The autoclave chamber (where all the waste and medical instruments are loaded) is heated using steam, and the pressure is increased to sterilize the waste.
The autoclave works by heating the waste to a high temperature, typically between 121°C and 134°C. The sterilization cycle typically takes between 30 and 90 minutes, depending on the size of the autoclave and the amount of waste being sterilized. This can be even shorter with a fully automatized process by using Celitron’s Azteca A large medical waste autoclave or Azteca AC medium medical waste autoclave.
Once the sterilization cycle is complete, the autoclave releases the pressure and allows the chamber to cool and the waste to dry. The sterilized waste can then be safely disposed of or recycled.
Medical waste autoclaves – what are their benefits?
Naturally, there are many different methods for medical waste disposal apart from autoclaves. Here are some of the main benefits you can expect from using steam sterilizers at your healthcare facility:
- Reducing the risk of infection transmission ON-SITE: Medical waste autoclaves ensure the safe and effective sterilization of medical waste and tools, reducing the risk of infection transmission and the spread of diseases. By ensuring that all microorganisms are killed, medical waste autoclaves make the waste harmless while it is still present at your site. In other cases, you would have to deal with strict medical waste storage and segregation rules, and require the services of a licensed hazardous waste removal company to come and take the waste off your hands.
- Cost-effective: While the initial cost of a modern, high-end steam sterilizer may be high, it can be cost-effective in the long run. Machines like Celitron’s Integrated Sterilizer and Shredder - a hybrid medical waste autoclave - can reduce the original volume of healthcare waste by up to 80%. This means you can save on transportation and disposal costs. Our medical waste autoclaves are also equipped with advanced energy-saving systems and are much more easy and cost-effective to operate compered to on-site incinerators.
- Environmentally friendly: Steam sterilizers are an environmentally friendly solution to healthcare waste disposal. By sterilizing the waste on-site, you can reduce the amount of waste that needs to be transported, reducing the carbon footprint associated with waste transportation. Not to mention that the water and energy-saving systems of Celitron’s medical waste autoclaves make their operation much more sustainable, with zero risk of harmful emissions or bad odors.
How Celitron’s medical waste autoclaves help your healthcare facility meet environmental and medical regulations
Apart from helping you save costs on healthcare waste management, reducing infection risks, and allowing you to operate in a sustainable way, there is another great benefit to using medical waste autoclaves. They help you meet the strict environmental standards that govern healthcare waste disposal.
In other words: they help you avoid hefty fines.
Medical waste management regulations aim to protect public health and the environment by ensuring that medical waste is properly handled, transported, and disposed of. Furthermore, the World Health Organization always prioritizes non-incineration technologies.
One way that healthcare facilities can comply with these regulations is by using medical waste autoclaves to sterilize medical waste on-site. By doing so, they can meet the following standards:
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations: OSHA requires healthcare facilities to provide a safe working environment for employees, including protection from occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens. By using an autoclave to sterilize medical waste, healthcare facilities can reduce the risk of exposure to infectious materials, protecting employees from potential harm.
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations: The EPA sets standards for the management and disposal of medical waste to prevent environmental contamination. By using an autoclave to sterilize medical waste on-site, healthcare facilities can reduce the amount of waste that needs to be transported, reducing the risk of environmental contamination from medical waste transportation.
- Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations: The DOT sets regulations for the transportation of hazardous materials, including medical waste. By reducing the volume of waste that needs to be transported, healthcare facilities can comply with DOT regulations and reduce the risk of accidents during transportation.
Apart from the federal regulations mentioned above, state and local regulations can vary depending on your region. Be sure to always check what set of rules concerns your facility!
Types of medical waste autoclaves – which is one best for hospitals and clinics?
There are two main types of medical waste autoclaves: gravity and vacuum.
- Gravity autoclaves work by using steam to gradually displace air from the chamber. In most cases, they can only sterilize simple loads such as flat medical tools, making them less popular among hospitals and clinics that need to treat a wide variety of materials.
- Vacuum autoclaves, on the other hand, use a vacuum pump to COMPLETELY remove air from the chamber before steam is introduced. This allows them to be faster and more efficient than gravity autoclaves, as they can achieve higher temperatures and pressure, AND use less water and energy at the same time! They can also sterilize wrapped and unwrapped instruments, textile-based items, and porous loads.
At Celitron, you will only find vacuum medical waste autoclaves – regardless of the model you choose for your healthcare facility. Whether you need a large steam sterilizer to help your hospital handle a huge amount of waste and medical equipment, or a medium autoclave at the site of your operating theater, we can provide you with the model that best suits your needs.
For more information and technical specifications about our medical waste autoclaves, be sure to CHECK OUT CELITRON’S WEBSITE!
You can also CONTACT OUR TEAM who will answer any questions you may have and help you through the process of installing your new on-site medical waste solution!