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Wednesday, November 13 2019

The consequences of violating medical waste rules can be hazardous for the flora and fauna. Therefore, the hospitals, clinics and other health care bodies should necessarily have an effective medical waste management strategy. Secure Waste, Inc. wants you to update you with the basics.

Definition Of Medical Waste

How Will We Define Medical Waste?

Medical waste is generated in health care places like hospitals, dental clinics, at local physician clinics, etc. It can be present in solid or liquid form. It is a kind of waste that contains infectious materials like blood gauges or cotton, human or animal tissues, used vaccines or injections, etc.

History of Medical Waste

In the year 1987, there was a tremendous increase in the amount of waste product on the shores of the beaches in New York and New Jersey. This huge pile of waste material affected the lives of the natives. They had to suffer a lot as the campaigns to clean up the mess were failing continuously.

When the complete scenario was studied, it was found that the waste collected on the sea shores of New York was produced by the Southwest Brooklyn incinerator and Marine Transfer Station. The companies wanted to escape the costs associated with proper waste disposal.

They disposed off the medical waste by dumping it in the ocean, packed in plastic bags. The ocean waves brought the waste to sea shores where it got collected.

This incident led to a revolution that got started on August 13, 1987, with the purpose of efficient waste disposal.

The next year in 1988, the revolution gained more pace when the Congress passed the Medical Waste Tracking Act. This law was created to focus on the handling and disposal of medical waste in the US. Under this federal program, the EPA was required to enforce certain restrictions on medical waste.

Medical Waste Types

Medical Waste Types

Not all wastes are of the same kind and thus aren’t their disposing methods. Every sort of waste is unique and has some unique properties. Because of the difference in their nature, texture, and different disposing techniques, WHO (World Health Organization) has divided them into primary types.

Types Of Wastages:-

  • Sharps – Any sharp and pointed stuff such as discarded needles, knives, blades, etc.
  • Pathological Waste – It is a subset of biohazardous wastes that contain human-derived tissues, organs,  blood tissues, and other body parts.
  • Infectious Waste – Waste that may cause harmful effects on humans as well as onthe environment. This sort of waste includes lab cultures, tissues, swabs, excreta, etc.
  • Radioactive Waste – Unused liquid in radiotherapy or lab research, infected glassware, etc.
  • ChemicalWaste – Expired lab reagents, film developer, disinfectant, harmful elements, etc.
  • Pharmaceuticals Waste Expired and contaminated medicines, P-listed drugs like nicotine and Warfarin. U-listed drugs like Lindane and Melphalan.
  • Pressurized Containers Gas cylinders and gas cartridges that hold gases or liquids at huge pressure.

What are the categories of Medical Waste?

Medical Waste - Medical waste is obtained from operating rooms, morgues, laboratories or other medical facilities. This kind of wastes consists of bandages, bedding, syringes and much more.

Biomedical Waste - Biomedical waste is produced from organic and medical sources and activities, such as the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of diseases. Examples of Biomedical waste are- Bodily fluids, tissue samples, organs, cultures and body parts.

Clinical Waste - This waste includes human or animal tissue, blood or other body fluids, excretions, drugs, syringes, pharmaceutical products needles, and other sharp instruments.

Infectious Medical Waste - This type of waste includes personal sanitary products like diapers, tissues, medical dressings, hair, nails, extracted teeth and more.

Healthcare waste(HCW) - This waste obtained from health care bodies and includes sharps, tattoo sharps, blood, tissues, organs, chemicals, medicines, injections, etc.

Where does Medical Waste come from?

  • Anything that is sopped in the blood (gloves or gauzes).
  • Human or animal tissues are obtained during operations.
  • Infections caused by disease-causing agents.
  • Useless vaccines.

How much medical waste is produced?

Anyone would be shocked to identify the amount of waste produced on a yearly basis. With the ongoing development in the medical field, medical waste is also increasing at an alarming rate.

  • Only hospitals in the U.S. produce 6 million tons of waste annually.
  • 119% of regulated medical waste is produced annually.
  • 85% of medical waste is deemed as non-bio-hazardous.
  • Every staffed bed produces 35lbs. waste in hospitals in the USA.
  • There are about 40,000 firms in Florida that produce medical waste.

Who is responsible for the disposal of medical waste?

In the late 1980s, the waste control was done by the Environment Protection Agency and the Federal Government at the national level. At the state level, there were numerous state health agencies and environmental programs working with the purpose to keep a check on effective waste control methods.

The major authoritative bodies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Department of Transportation (DOT) and more are are working on the path to control medical waste.

Why it is essential to disposemedical waste?

Efficient disposal of medical waste is essential for human beings, animals, plants and the environment. The hazards of medical waste severely affect healthcare workers and waste disposal staff.

Another victim of medical waste is innocent animals. The animals intake these waste products and this results in their bad health and weak condition. The soil and manure get polluted by the waste products.

It is highly important to manage waste products in an efficient way.

  • Health Point Of View - The waste products like blood stains, used diapers, bandages soaked in blood have germs. It’s unhygienic as well as bad for the health of visitors who come to visit the patients in the hospital.
  • Environment Pollution – The risk of air, water and soil pollution turns ruthless if the waste gets into contact with the outside atmosphere.
  • Infection Risk – Infection can spread from sharp objects like knives, blades and other pointed objects like used needles, scalpels, etc.

What are the different ways to treat Medical Waste?

There are many ways to treat waste. Though, the purpose behind every waste disposal treatment is quite the same. The kinds of treatment performed during the waste treatment process are incineration, autoclaving, microwaving, biological or chemical.

Incineration - This process is still used for pathological waste treatments. Before the year 1997, approximately 91% of medical waste was disposed ofusing this method. In this process, the waste material was disposed off by Burning.

Autoclaving - This treatment is performed by sterilizing supplies under high pressure for 15-20 minutes. After this, the waste is disposed off in solid waste landfills.

Microwaving - The process of heating waste by exposing it to electromagnetic radiation in the microwave frequency range. This induces polar molecules in the food to rotate and produce thermal energy in a process known as dielectric heating. This lets the polar molecules to form dielectric molecules by rotating and producing thermal energy.

Chemical -  Some of the waste materials are so rigid that they do not get disposed of properly even after burning. For such kind of harmful wastes,there are chemicals that can be used for proper disposal.

Biological - This sort of treatment use nature-based products for disposing of bio-medical waste. In this method, enzymes are employed to defuse the contagious organisms. Though the method of waste disposal is safe for the environment,  yet its slow. Due to its slow nature, it is not practiced much.

Also Read: How To Deal With/Dispose Of Acupuncture Wastes

What are the stages of Medical Waste Disposal?

Medical waste disposal is not a one-shot process. It requires careful analysis, competent efforts, regular hard work, and keen inspection. Disposing of medical waste can’t be done single handedly. It requires a team with expert professionals having years of experience.

The complete waste disposal process is covered up in various phases. In every phase, a specific task is performed. The various phases are given below:-

Stage 1 – Collection of waste products

This is the first phase of the biomedical waste disposal process. This stage ensures that waste products must be collected in hard and tough containers. The needles, syringes, blades, or other sharp items can easily break or smash the soft containers. Thus, it is to be noted that a measurably tough and resilient material should be used for collecting the waste material.

Stage 2 – Segregation of waste products

Not every individual throw the waste in the dustbin according to the tag name. Therefore, the segregation of the waste product is necessary for effective hospital waste management. The segregation helps in easy handling of waste and promotes the process to the next level.

Stage 3 – Storing & Transporting

Immediate waste disposal is not possible; therefore proper arrangement has to be done to store it. The protected area which is far from the public should be used as a storage place. Particularly for biomedical waste the refrigerator, freezer, protective devices, should be used for storing waste. The storage should be done so efficiently that it does not be a source to transmit germs.

Transportation of waste products should be done in a highly protected and safe vehicle. As biomedical waste is highly contagious and harmful, therefore waste transportation should be done by the vehicle which is not open and does not emit any kind of gas which is harmful to the environment.

Stage 4 – Treatment

When infectious waste reaches the disposal site, its treatment takes place. On the basis of the type of waste, the proficient treatment is chosen. There are basically two types of waste disposal treatments- incineration and non-incineration.The required treatment could be in the form of incineration, autoclaving, microwaving, biological, microwaving, etc.

The treatments are done ensuring the essentials of OSHA’s guidelines. The trainer from the OSHA ensures that the waste is getting handled properly. In the whole process, many different sorts of equipment are used. This includes conveyors, carts, shredding, compactors and many more.

Given below is the list of equipments that are used in the medical waste management process:-     

  • Trommels : It is used to separate waste materials using a perforated cylindrical drum.
  • Rotary Screening Bucket : It is the equipment used for classifying, size splitting and pre-sorting waste products.
  • Waste Converter : The machine that performs operations like pasteurization, sterilization, grinding, and pulverization.
  • Waste Digester : Waste is heated and broken down aerobically by bacteria, and converted  into clean electricity.
  • Cart And Drawers : These are used for easy transportation and segregation of waste materials.
  • Shredder or Grinder : Typically, shredders are not capable of producing high-quality end materials and are used to pre-process raw infected wastes.  A horizontal grinder is used to process the pre-shredded material into a quality end product.
  • Cart Dumpers : These medical waste containers are typically designed to carry a huge amount of waste products up to 5000 pounds.

Incineration – Type 1 of Medical Waste Treatment

As said earlier, this treatment is based upon the high-temperature combustion process.  The equipment used in this system is burn pile, rotary kiln, fluidized bed, controlled air. Incineration of waste materials converts the waste into ash, flue gas and heat.

Non-Incineration System– Type 2 of Medical Waste Treatment

Autoclaving System :  It is commonly used for the disposal of human body fluid waste, sharps, and microbiology laboratory waste. This system requires a high temperature (thermal) that produces steam to decontaminate the biomedical waste. The steam plays a critical role in the medical waste autoclaving process; therefore, a sturdy medical waste container is required to hold waste.

Irradiation System : Irradiation is the other thermal method which uses a high-frequency microwave for disposal. The wave will generate heat to the waste materials and kill the bacteria, or eliminate the risk of contamination.

Chemical Decontamination  : This method is used for the treatment of microbial waste, human blood, sharps and body fluid waste, but can’t be used for the disposal of anatomical waste.

Biological Process : It is a method that uses enzymes to destroy the organic matter of the waste. It is an eco-friendly and sustainable way to treat waste. Examples of biomedical waste that can be treated by biological process are bodily fluids, tissue samples, organs, etc.

Stage 5– Disposal

After the proper collection, segregation, storage, transportation, and treatment of waste products, they are ready to get disposed off. The most convenient place for waste disposal is the municipal landfills and sanitary sewer system.

What are the simple ways to reduce the production of  Medical Waste in Health Centres?

  • Prevent people from disposing of non-medical waste items into red bags.
  • Train your staff with effective health care waste management techniques.
  • Stay updated with new disposing techniques.
  • Know the regulations on waste products which is imposed on you as per the state laws.
  • Develop a waste management plan and circulate its protocols amid your staff members.
  • Use reusable products wherever possible.
  • Use small medical waste containers in the patient’s room so that their room doesn’t turn dirty.
  • Color code on dustbins for the segregation of waste from the initial step.
  • Waste audits should be done regularly.

If you still have some queries related to the medical waste disposal techniques or you need any kind of waste disposing advice then contact Secure Waste, Inc.

Also Read: How To Deal With Biohazard Waste In A Safe Way?

Posted by: Secure Waste AT 04:43 am   |  Permalink   |  Email

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