What is healthcare risk waste and how should its disposal be handled?


The healthcare industry produces a huge amount of waste that can be considered a biohazard risk. Still, thanks to more modern on-site solutions, health care risk waste disposal can be handled safely, and more easily by medical staff. In Celitron’s next article, we shall discuss what healthcare risk waste is, how it can be identified, stored, as well as one of the best ways to handle its disposal right at the site of your medical facility!

What is healthcare risk waste? – Definition and meaning

By definition, healthcare risk waste (often abbreviated as HRCW) is any waste that poses a potential risk of infection towards people and might also damage the environment if not disposed of properly. The infectious nature of the waste may come from medical equipment and other materials contaminated by blood or body fluids, which is even more hazardous in the case of patients with transmissible infectious diseases.

The Coronavirus has placed an even greater burden on the healthcare industry, but regardless of the presence of a pandemic, the disposal of healthcare risk waste is a challenge that medical facilities must face every day.

What are the different types of healthcare risk waste?

There are many different types of healthcare risk waste. Practically any potentially infectious material can be healthcare waste, including textiles, bandages, swabs, glass, papers, plastic, and disposable medical instruments.

Other examples include:

  • Hypodermic needles (medical sharps waste)
  • Healthcare waste contaminated with blood/blood by-products
  • Discarded diagnostic samples containing blood and body fluids
  • Healthcare waste originating from isolation ward patients
  • Surgical equipment, such as the small metal blade of scalpels

The generation of healthcare waste is unavoidable, especially in the case of sharps waste, considered to pose one of the greatest risks due to its ability to cut or pierce the skin even through regular trash bags, enabling it to spread infections even more easily. According to the estimations of the WHO, there are around 16 billion injections that are administered around the world every year. Sharps cannot be decontaminated and reused, which is why they must be destroyed to eliminate the risks associated with this healthcare waste.

What to do about healthcare risk waste before disposal

Disposing of healthcare risk waste is usually accomplished by transporting it to an offsite location and eliminating it there.

In order to do that, medical facilities must first collect and segregate different types of healthcare waste into different, color-coded containers. These are special containers that are usually leak-proof, and in the case of sharps, puncture-proof as well to avoid incidents. The sooner you can collect healthcare waste after it is generated the better.

These healthcare waste containers then need to be stored away from public access areas, such as cafeterias, restrooms, and multi-bed patient wards. Once the containers are about 75% full, disposal can occur with the help of a licensed waste transportation company.

Healthcare risk waste disposal is usually handled with incineration, but there are already more modern on-site methods as well which allow you to sterilize waste right after it has been collected. This way, you can already eliminate the risk of infection on-site!

Healthcare risk waste disposal with Celitron’s Integrated Sterilizer and Shredder (ISS)

Autoclaving (AKA steam sterilization) is an excellent method to not only sterilize certain types of healthcare waste but also allows staff to safely reuse certain medical tools. However, materials such as sharps and items contaminated by blood and body fluids cannot be reused, and cannot be decontaminated by the average autoclave.

This is why Celitron has developed a special solution for on-site healthcare risk waste disposal by combining the benefits of steam sterilization with a medical waste shredder! The ISS is already present in more than 40 different countries worldwide.

Thanks to its versatility, effectiveness, and user-friendly mechanism, Celitron’s Integrated Sterilizer and Shredder can help virtually any facility to dispose of their healthcare waste safely, including dialysis centers, blood banks, hospitals, clinics, and even surgical and plasma centers.

Benefits of using the ISS for healthcare risk waste disposal include:

  • complete compliance with EU and WHO recommendations: zero harmful substances emitted
  • cost-effective operation and maintenance compared to incinerators
  • easy to use, and easily integrated into your current healthcare waste management system
  • can treat up to 150 kgs of healthcare risk waste within a 15-35 minute long cycle

How does Celitron’s healthcare risk waste disposal work?

Steam sterilization is about using high-pressure and high-temperature steam much higher than 134 degrees Celsius which allows it to kill all manner of foreign materials, including heat-resistant bacteria. To prevent unwanted incidents related to elevated temperature levels, an automatic door-locking mechanism prevents any unauthorized interruptions.

Shredding healthcare risk waste allows for much better steam penetration, which allows the ISS to sterilize a wide range of materials contaminated by blood and body fluids, including sharps. Healthcare risk waste disposal becomes free of any risk of infection. Once the load inside the ISS is sterilized, rendered, and drained of its liquid components, it is dry and greatly reduced in volume.

In short, you can dispose of your waste like regular municipal trash, without any risk to staff or patients.

What kind of materials SHOULD NOT be put into Celitron’s healthcare risk waste disposal system?

Non-segregated types of healthcare waste such as:

  • Pharmaceuticals: expired medicines, including vaccines
  • Oversized metal objects like scissors and mercury thermometers (only small metal parts like needles can be treated in the ISS)
  • Chemical waste like disinfectants etc.
  • Pathological waste: identifiable human body parts

To sum up, if you’re looking for a practical and highly effective on-site solution to safely handle healthcare risk waste disposal, you will be more than satisfied with the performance of Celitron’s Integrated Sterilizer and Shredder. You can learn more about the specifications of the ISS BY CLICKING ON THIS LINK.

Don’t hesitate to CONTACT THE CELITRON TEAM, and we’ll provide you with the most suitable model of the ISS for your medical facility!

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