How is regulated medical waste disposed of? How to handle on-site disposal
Complying with current waste management regulations plays a large role in the day-to-day activities of medical facilities. Dental and veterinary clinics, hospitals, laboratories, dialysis centers and blood banks all need to find a suitable solution to handle the waste they generate during the treatment of patients.
But how is regulated medical waste disposed of? How can facilities most easily handle the disposal of potentially infectious materials?
In Celitron’s next article, we will discuss the basics of the medical waste management process, as well as what on-site solutions make it easier for staff to greatly reduce the risks of infection!
What is regulated medical waste?
Any waste generated during the day-to-day activities of clinics, hospitals, and other medical facilities can be qualified as regulated medical waste. This mostly means leftover materials and medical equipment that could cause injuries (such as glassware or sharps) and/or could spread infections to other patients or medical staff.
Most notable examples include:
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Pipette tips
- Disposable medical instruments and surgical equipment
- Items contaminated by blood and bodily fluids
- Medical sharps waste (hypodermic needles)
How is regulated medical waste disposed of?
The reason why biomedical waste is often referred to as “regulated medical waste” is that the management and disposal of potentially infectious materials are strictly regulated by environmental and health departments. While some guidelines are universal, specifics may differ depending on the state or country your medical facility is located in. Make sure to always be up to date regarding the current regulations that affect your clinic or hospital.
So how is regulated medical waste disposed of? Well, it’s a whole process. Before disposal can occur, facilities need to make sure that their waste management system is prepared to handle the collection, storage, and transportation of such waste via licensed waste removal companies (if choosing off-site disposal methods).
- Medical waste needs to be collected as soon as it is generated. Make sure to always wear PPE whenever handling potentially infectious materials (waterproof gloves, overshoes, plastic apron, hooded coveralls, eye protection). Always assume that every piece of equipment is contaminated and don’t forget personal decontamination.
- The segregation of regulated medical waste is handled by using special color-coded containers. This helps staff identify what kind of waste they are dealing with, but also serves to prevent injuries or contamination by storing waste inside puncture and leak-proof containers. This is especially important in the case of sharps and items contaminated by blood and other bodily fluids.
- Medical waste containers need to be stored in a separate, closed-off space far from any populated areas until the transportation and disposal of the waste can take place.
How to handle regulated medical waste disposal: on-site vs off-site solutions
The most “traditional” way to handle regulated medical waste disposal consists of moving it to an off-site location where most waste is treated via incinerators. HTI (High-Temperature Incineration) is extremely effective at eliminating almost any type of waste (including pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and toxic waste).
However, in the case of regulated medical waste, off-site disposal may not be the best option, especially considering long-term cost-effectiveness.
- Disposing of medical waste off-site means you will need to take into account higher transportation costs. Since the waste being transported will still be infectious and hazardous to human health, you will need to hire the services of a licensed waste disposal company.
- There are also environmental factors at play. While the removal of infectious waste always takes priority, methods like incineration may also pose a risk of air pollution. Not to mention that more advanced on-site incinerators are simply much more costly to install and operate compared to steam sterilizers, making them a less viable option for a lot of smaller-sized medical facilities.
However, by using on-site solutions like autoclaves (steam sterilizers) the waste will already be sterile – meaning it can be disposed of like regular municipal waste since there is no risk of infection.
Regulated medical waste disposal options from Celitron – For small clinics and large hospitals
At Celitron, we are proud to be able to provide facilities of all sizes with on-site regulated medical waste disposal solutions to facilities of all sizes. We are also committed to making non-incineration technologies accessible in over 80 countries all over the world.
Compared to incineration, steam sterilization is more cost-effective, and helps facilities adhere to the environmental guidelines set up by the WHO and EU. Our autoclaves all fall within the most advanced category of steam sterilizers available on the market – Class B machines. These models provide greater versatility and faster sterilization cycles, regardless of the size of the model you choose. There is no compromise on quality – we can accommodate the needs of small clinics and large hospitals alike. We also have a hybrid autoclave model with an integrated medical waste shredder: Celitron’s ISS is an ideal on-site solution for regulated medical waste that cannot be reused even after sterilization, such as sharps.
Autoclaves are also ideal for enabling the reuse of medical tools and equipment, such as surgical instruments. Reminder: cleaning and disinfection processes are NOT the same as steam sterilization! All medical equipment MUST be sterile before use.
Here are the on-site solutions we recommend for handling regulated medical waste disposal:
- Sting 11 B small benchtop autoclaves
- Azteca AC medium autoclaves
- Azteca A large autoclaves
- ISS – Integrated Sterilizer and Shredder
How to handle regulated medical waste disposal is an issue that the healthcare industry faces daily. However, thanks to more modern and practical solutions, smaller clinics and large hospitals alike can now find a suitable on-site solution. With Celitron’s autoclaves, you can sterilize a large variety of medical tools and red bag waste and easy comply with regulations set by the WHO and EU.
If you have any questions about the steam sterilizers we offer, don’t hesitate to CONTACT US! Our professional team is ready to help you choose the solution most suited to your needs and provide you with a free quote as well!