Category Archives: Healthcare Industry

This Product Has Been Recalled 75 Times

On May 6, 2019, Vivimed Life Sciences put out another recall for losartan.

The American Health Packaging recall of valsartan on March 7, 2019, the 75th recall of blood pressure medication since the initial contamination occurred.

The problem with the contamination of blood pressure medication has gotten so widespread that the FDA authorized a new generic of valsartan to help relieve shortages when lots after lots of the existing medication were recalled.

Also, the agency compiled a list of 40 blood pressure medications that seem free of contamination. You can find that list here.

Which blood pressure drugs have been recalled?

The common prescription drugs for blood pressure that have been recalled so far include valsartan, losartan, and irbesartan in different combinations and from different manufacturers.

Why have the drugs been recalled?

In each case, a recalled drug was contaminated with N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) or N-Nitroso N-Methyl 4-amino butyric acid (NMBA).

Those chemicals are believed to cause cancer in humans. Research also suggests NDEA can cause liver and blood cell damage.

NDEA is a byproduct of industrial processes, and the FDA is working on identifying how it has been getting into the medication. It can also be created by other chemical reactions. It is found in very low levels in some food and in drinking water, and is used to make rocket fuel.

Can you get cancer from the contaminated drugs?

The FDA says the risk is very low. They estimate that if 8,000 people took the highest valsartan dose, which is 320 milligrams, from recalled batches every day for 4 years, there would likely only be one additional case of cancer over the life of those 8,000 people.

What should you do if you have a perscription for one of the recalled drugs?

Don’t stop taking the medication. The threat from the contamination in the drug is a lesser threat than the consequences of stopping the use of the medication.

However, do contact your pharmacist or Doctor as soon as possible.

They can help you find an alternative.

Because so much of the blood pressure drugs have been recalled, this may be a little more difficult than usual. Also, keep in mind that drugs that are not on the list of recalls are more in demand and therefore the price may have gotten higher.

WebMD has an article up that summarizes the rash of blood pressure medication recalls. You can read the full report here.

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We are MedWaste Management – California’s medical waste disposal experts!

Established in 2008, MedWaste Management brings great benefit to the healthcare industry and the general public alike. We publish this blog to to spread useful and practical information to help people stay safe, smart and healthy!

Call us with any questions or to start service at (866) 254-5105. We are always happy to speak!

Check out our services and other great resources in the links below.

Medical Waste Disposal Services 

MedWaste’s Blog Index

Medical Waste Regulations

MedWaste’s Product Store 

Home Generated Medical Waste Drop-Off Points In California

 

ANOTHER Recall?? More Blood Pressure Meds Taken Off The Market.

“Legacy Pharmaceutical Packaging, LLC Issues Voluntary Nationwide Recall of Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP, 25mg, 50mg, And 100mg Due to The Detection of Trace Amounts Of N-Nitroso N-Methyl 4-Amino Butyric Acid (NMBA) Impurity Found in The Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API)”.

We have been following recall notices about blood pressure drugs valsartan and losartan. 

This latest recall follows several others announced since July, when the FDA announced the recall of five separate valsartan blood pressure drugs over possible NDEA and NDMA contamination.

Many more were announced in August as the recall spread to Canada and the European Union. And earlier this month, a blood pressure drug known as irbesartan was recalled as well.

So far, recall notices have been issued for multiple lots, with multiple updates, by multiple generic drug manufacturers. Some of the manufacturers who issued recalls in the past several months include:

Teva, Legacy, Torrent, Sandov, Macleods,  Aurobindo Pharma USA,   Mylan’s.

This is by far the longest-running, ongoing spread of recalls we’ve noticed in the past three years.

What is going on?

Turns out that we weren’t the only curious ones. Bloomberg.com spent a year investigating the FDA’s regulations of the generic drug industry and found a drop-off in inspections and the softening of penalties when problems are identified. Data integrity is compromised as well. FDA inspections at factories from West Virginia to China give cause to doubt the data meant to prove the safety and efficacy of drugs.

Bloomberg’s has done a lot of research on generic drugs and the FDA’s quality control. One of their conclusion was that due to the data integrity problems, even the drugs that are not being recalled may not be as effective or safe as they are meant to be.

Safety and efficacy concerns are not limited to drugs using active ingredients from India and China, but also to drugs manufactured in the States.

Bloomberg has a host of articles around the subject of generic drugs and where we are headed, and they are not encouraging.

One of the reasons for the increased laxity in regulations may be the generic drug initiative run by Scott Gottlieb, FDA Commissioner.

Scott Gottlieb was the FDA Commissioner since May 2017, and spearheaded several important initiatives. Among these are finding solutions to the opioid crises, food safety modernization, an initiative to minimize youth nicotine, youth vaping, and general nicotine addiction.

Another top priority for Gottlieb was getting more generic drugs into the market. The extra competition would drive down prices. This has drawn praise from both parties in Congress and, as an aside, is one of the issues President Trump said he would take care of if he was voted President. Everybody was happy.

In the effort to fast-track generic drug manufacture, some approvals for generic drugs may have come at the expense of quality assurance and oversight to ensure the efficacy and safety of the drugs.

On March 5, 2019, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced that he was resigning from his post as FDA Commissioner. He will be leaving in April. Will the FDA tighten regulations after he leaves? We can’t be sure.

They will definitely keep working on keeping more drugs accessible to more people- and on the other initiatives Gottlieb spearheaded during his reign as the FDA Commissioner.

Perhaps, now that Gottlieb put a system in place, they will spend more time fixing the bugs in the system and plugging the holes that allow ineffective and unsafe drugs to hit the market. Maybe we will all notice that our medication is working better all of a sudden, and spend less time visiting Doctors to try different versions of what is supposed to be the same basic drug. Maybe the drug prices will go up again. Who knows?

In the meantime, keep checking for updates on drug recalls on our website, or go directly to the FDA’s website.

Above all, Be Safe.

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We are MedWaste Management – California’s medical waste disposal experts!

Established in 2008, MedWaste Management brings great benefit to the healthcare industry and the general public alike. We publish this blog to to spread useful and practical information to help people stay safe, smart and healthy!

Call us with any questions or to start service at (866) 254-5105. We are always happy to speak!

Check out our services and other great resources in the links below.

Medical Waste Disposal Services 

MedWaste’s Blog Index

Medical Waste Regulations

MedWaste’s Product Store 

Home Generated Medical Waste Drop-Off Points In California

 

New Year, Old Crisis: The Opioid Epidemic in 2019

The opioid crisis is still one of the most critical public health challenges of our time period. The death toll is still rising. An estimated 130 people are dying from opioid-related overdose every day.

The Department of Health and Human Services released a plan for dealing with the opioid crisis in 2019.

It has five key points:

  1. Better prevention, treatment and recovery services for addicts.
  2. Developing better methods for pain management.
  3. More quality research on pain and research on addiction.
  4. More attention on overdose-reversing drugs
  5. Get better, more accurate data on the scope of the opioid epidemic.

The Department has $10 billion allocated to put this five-point plan into action.

The Department of Justice Department of Justice is also implementing new and creative policies to fight the opioid scourge.

In 2019, they’re proposing to decrease manufacturing quotas for opioid production.

Time will tell if the quota will go through, as patients who are on opioids may strenuously object to policies that will limit their access to drugs they are currently taking for pain management. So we might see a plethora of petitions and fights over opioid policies this coming year.

The nation’s biggest drugmakers and distributors face a wave of civil lawsuits that could total tens of billions of dollars in damages.

Local governments are suing drug companies that manufacture opioids, distribute them, or sell them to patients. The coming year will see us through the big court fights. The litigation process is going to evolve over the next year. It will likely follow a similar pattern as the lawsuits against tobacco manufacturers. First, States will need to prove that opioids are harmful to patients, that the companies were unequivocally aware of the risks to users, and that the patients could not assume responsibility for the risks because the risks were concealed and patients and prescribers of the drug were not adequately informed of the risks by the manufacturers. Companies will likely be sued for the cost of healthcare and treatment for opioid addiction that the State incurred, or to help defray the cost of opening more addiction treatment centers in States that are desperately strapped for the necessary funds.

So far, the claims are that dozens of companies (manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies) made billions of dollars flooding the U.S. with prescription pain pills. On top of that, the claim accuses the companies of a concerted effort to mislead the public and physicians about the dangers of opioid medications. One example is Purdue Pharma, who created Oxycontin in the 1990s, marketed it aggressively, and advertised the following:

“In fact, the rate of addiction amongst pain patients who are treated by doctors is much less than one percent…” “These drugs should be used much more than they are for patients in pain.”

There are also smaller lawsuits pending against prescribing Doctors.

Boston U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling has been sending letters to Doctors whose patients died opioid-related deaths within 60 days of being prescribed opioids.

They are reminders and warnings, he says, that his Department is keeping an eye out for ethical prescribing practices of potentially lethal substances.

There have been Doctors indicted for manslaughter over opioid-related deaths, and the coming year will probably see more Doctors in court for their lax prescription practices.

We will be following the various lawsuits.

The United States has been pushing for better regulation of fentanyl in China for years, without much luck.

Maybe 2019 will bring changes in China and their regulatory laws.

Who knows? Although, considering the huge amount of money China is making off fentanyl sales and distribution in China, they probably won’t be so quick to completely cut such a profitable industry.

Maybe in 2019 we’ll find out if that wall between the U.S. and Mexico will ever be finished.

The next 12 months might just redefine the way America thinks about and responds to the opioid epidemic that now claims more than 40,000 lives each year.

This coming year is going to bring more contention and more awareness around the subject of opioids than last year. It’s a trending topic. Government agencies, News reporting agencies, Law Enforcement Agencies, Schools and Community Organizations, are all going to address aspects of the opioid crisis over the coming year. We can all gear up and find a way to help. The opioid crisis is not going away anytime soon. Hopefully the coming year will also bring surprising initiatives and solutions that will drive down the opioid overdose death rates and the rate of overall prescription and addiction.

The DEA and Google both provide locators to find your nearest prescription drug take back locations.

Check out The DEA and Google pages below. They contain tools and more info on the ever growing efforts to help people properly dispose of their unused prescription drugs. This is certainly part of the bigger plan to help end the opioid crisis.

DEA’s Prescription Drug Take Back Location Tool

Google’s Prescription Drug Take Back Location Tool

We are MedWaste Management – California’s medical waste disposal experts!

Established in 2008, MedWaste Management brings great benefit to the healthcare industry and the general public alike. We publish this blog to to spread useful and practical information to help people stay safe, smart and healthy!

Call us with any questions or to start service at (866) 254-5105. We are always happy to speak!

Check out our services and other great resources in the links below.

Medical Waste Disposal Services 

MedWaste’s Blog Index

Medical Waste Regulations

MedWaste’s Product Store 

Home Generated Medical Waste Drop-Off Points In California

 

 

 

Florida Sues Walgreens and CVS for Opioid Distribution

Florida is suing Walgreens and CVS, two of the largest drugstore chains in the nation, among other opioid distributors and producers, for their role in the opioid epidemic.

The state is alleging that Walgreens and CVS added to the national opioid crisis and to the Florida state opioid crisis by selling more painkillers than necessary and for their “unconscionable efforts to increase the demand and supply of opioids into Florida.”

The lawsuit alleges that Walgreens has dispensed billions of doses of opioids in Florida pharmacies since 2006.  In some stores, its opioid sales jumped six-fold in two years.

The lawsuit further alleged that in 2011,  Walgreens’ pharmacies in Florida ordered more than one million dosage units of oxycodone. That’s ten times the average amount.

Five years ago, the company paid $80 million  to resolve a federal investigation that centered on inadequate record keeping of its Florida opioid sales. The inadequate record keeping allowed opioid pills to get to the black market.

The lawsuit revealed that a Walgreens distribution center sold  2.2 million opioid tablets to  its pharmacy in Hudson, a tiny town, population 12,000. That’s about a six month supply for each resident.

In another town, not identified in the lawsuit, Walgreens sold 285,000 pills in a month to a population of 3,000.

It also shipped more than 1.1 million opioid pills to two pharmacies in Fort Pierce— 1.1 million pills each.

In regard to CVS, the lawsuit accuses the company of distributing more than 700 million dosages of opioid meds in the State of Florida through 754 Florida stores between the years of 2006 and 2014.

CVS also paid $22 million to settle allegations that its pharmacists were filling fake opioid prescriptions in 2015.

“Armed with knowledge of their own sales and shipments and industry-wide data, Defendants knew or should have known that the quantity of opioids being distributed in Florida far exceeds the medical need of Florida residents,” the lawsuit said.

CVS and Walgreens are not the only pharmacies being sued in this lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed in May and already includes other opioid distributors like InSys. (They aggressively marketed SubSys, a fentanyl spray.) Also included are opioid manufacturers, like Purdue Pharma, (OxyContin), Endo Pharmaceuticals, (Percocet) and Teva Pharmaceuticals, who manufactures generic drugs.

Walgreens said they don’t comment on pending lawsuits.

Mike DeAngelis, spokesman for CVS, said the lawsuit is “without merit.” He stated that CVS trains its employees to properly shoulder their responsibilities when they are dispensing controlled substances, and that the company gives pharmacists and their assistants tools to detect illegal sales.

“Over the past several years, CVS has taken numerous actions to strengthen our existing safeguards to help address the nation’s opioid epidemic,” DeAnglelis said.

Walgreens and CVS are working to install drug take back kiosks in their pharmacies, where patients can return unused or expired drugs, in an effort to help with the opioid crisis.

The DEA and Google both provide locators to find your nearest prescription drug take back locations.

Check out The DEA and Google pages below. They contain tools and more info on the ever growing efforts to help people properly dispose of their unused prescription drugs. This is certainly part of the bigger plan to help end the opioid crisis.

DEA’s Prescription Drug Take Back Location Tool

Google’s Prescription Drug Take Back Location Tool

We are MedWaste Management – California’s medical waste disposal experts!

Established in 2008, MedWaste Management brings great benefit to the healthcare industry and the general public alike. We publish this blog to to spread useful and practical information to help people stay safe, smart and healthy!

Call us with any questions or to start service at (866) 254-5105. We are always happy to speak!

Check out our services and other great resources in the links below.

Medical Waste Disposal Services 

MedWaste’s Blog Index

Medical Waste Regulations

MedWaste’s Product Store 

Home Generated Medical Waste Drop-Off Points In California

 

 

 

 

LabCorp

Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings, more commonly known as LabCorp, is an American S&P 500 company with headquarters in North Carolina. LabCorp has one of the largest networks of clinical laboratories in the world. 36 primary laboratories are located within the United States.

About LabCorp:

LabCorp was an early pioneer of genomic testing using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology, at its Center for Molecular Biology and Pathology in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. It also performs other molecular diagnostics, and does oncology testing, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) genotyping and phenotyping.

LabCorp operates the National Genetics Institute, Inc. (NGI) in Los Angeles, California which develops PCR testing methods. Its ViroMed facility performs real-time PCR microbial testing using laboratory-developed assays. The largest volume of specialty testing is performed at its headquarters; the Center for Esoteric Testing in Burlington, North Carolina.

They utilize seven PA-31-350′s and one PC-12 aircraft on nightly runs from Burlington, NC for use on the East Coast.

LabCorp also operates in Puerto Rico and in three Canadian provinces.

Locations:

LabCorp has 36 primary lab locations across the United States.

You can use the LabCorp laboratory locator to find a lab closest to you.

Hours:

Each location will have its own hours, so you will need to check the location details before scheduling your appointment or walking in.

Some services (like drug testing) are only available during certain hours. Check before you come in!

Appointments:

Appointments need to be made at least two hours in advance.

Walk-ins are also welcome.

Please note:Not all labs offer all services. You need to check with each location.

Labs are generally the busiest from opening until 10:00 AM. Unless you are required to fast, it’s best to schedule an appointment during off-peak hours.

If you are looking for a specific kind of test, LabCorp’s test menu provides a comprehensive list of specialty and general laboratory testing services.  

LabCorp is enhancing your check- in experience.

You can now use your phone, tablet or computer to schedule a visit, input the paperwork you need for your appointment and receive confirmations by text or email with LabCorp PreCheck.

Walking inis also faster with LabCorp Express. You scan your driver’s license or other state-issued ID the first time you visit, then input you insurance information. Pick the reason for your visit and LabCorp Express will provide you with the next available appointment.

Best of all, every time you return to LabCorp, they will remember you as a returning patient, saving you time for future check ins.

What should you bring?

  • The LabCorp test request form requesting the laboratory testing (Your healthcare professional should give this to you or send it directly to the lab)
  • A current insurance identification card (Medicare, Private Insurance or HMO/PPO).You can look up insurance carriers filed by LabCorp.
  • A photo ID (for example, a driver’s license or employee identification badge)
  • Cash, a health spending account card, credit card, or account debit card.

LabCorp staff will make the specimen collection process as safe, quick, and comfortable as possible while safeguarding your dignity and privacy.

Children must be supervised at all times while at our labs. Please plan ahead.

Payment:

There are a variety of payment options.  LabCorp offers you convenient online options for paying bills, updating insurance information, and sending secure emails to the LabCorp billing department.

LabCorp will file claims directly to Medicare, Medicaid, and many insurance companies and managed care plans.

LabCorp offers a Sign-and-Go Preauthorized Credit Card Option.

If you do not have insurance or your health care benefits do not cover clinical laboratory testing services, you will have to pay for the tests performed by LabCorp before specimen collection services are performed.

  • Certain routine tests are available at discounted prices through the LabAccess Partnership Program. To take advantage of this program, you must have your specimen collected at a LabCorp patient service center, and you must pay for your test in full at the time of service.
  • An automated payment collection process is available at many of our patient service centers, as well as certain doctor’s offices where a phlebotomist (person who performs blood draws) is on site to perform specimen collection services for LabCorp.
  • We accept cash, personal checks, and all major credit cards.

If you need additional assistance, LabCorp offers programs to address those patients who have true financial needs, including:

  • Special payment plans for financial hardship
  • Indigent request from physician/facility
  • LabAccess Partnership program

Please call us at 800-845-6167 for more information about these programs.

We are MedWaste Management – California’s medical waste disposal experts!

Established in 2008, MedWaste Management brings great benefit to the healthcare industry and the general public alike. We publish this blog to to spread useful and practical information to help people stay safe, smart and healthy!

Call us with any questions or to start service at (866) 254-5105. We are always happy to speak!

Check out our services and other great resources in the links below.

Medical Waste Disposal Services 

MedWaste’s Blog Index

Medical Waste Regulations

Medical Waste Products 

Home Generated Medical Waste Drop-Off Points In California

Quest Diagnostics Labs

Quest Diagnostics Incorporated is an American clinical laboratory founded in 1967. They became an independent corporation in 1996. Quest Diagnostics operates in United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and has a lab in India. Quest Diagnostics also consult and collaborate with hospitals and clinics globally to interpret unusual lab results and develop testing that is  more efficient and specific.

Locations

Quest Diagnostics have more than 2,200 Patient Service Centers nationwide. Find a Quest Diagnostics Location.

Appointments:

You can Make an Appointment  online or call the automated system:  (888)277-8772.

Quest Diagnostics does take walk-ins, but keep in mind that walk-ins will usually need to spend some time waiting. Scheduling is recommended; besides for keeping your in-and-out time more predictable, it also gives you the option of getting pre-appointment emails with useful information and reminders about the specific test you will be getting.

If you still need to walk in, keep in mind that Quest Diagnostics Patient Service Centers are usually busiest in the early morning. You may want to avoid arriving before nine thirty.

Payment and Billing:

Quest Diagnostics is accepted by most health insurance providers. They accept most major credit cards, debit cards, and health savings account cards. They offer paperless billing, online bill paying, and payment options like Easy Pay™. They also offer Payment Assistance, for patients who qualify.

Services:

Quest offers more than 3,500 kinds of lab tests and screenings. Some of the tests are common (screening for diabetes) and some are hard to find anywhere else.

Quest Diagnostics collect enough specimen for thorough testing. They follow the highest standards for testing in the industry.

Fast results. Quest employs  3,500 drivers and pilots deliver specimens to Quest Diagnostics laboratories as fast as possible.

Easy Access. Patients can access lab results digitally through MyQuest™, another cool service offered by Quest Diagnostics.

Physician Assistance. Services are not only for patients! Quest Diagnostics also offers a host of information and services for physicians. They have 650 Specialists, including MDs and PhDs, to help doctors interpret lab results and develop a plan of action. They also offer cutting-edge testing, which they continually research and develop.

Esoteric Test Options. Quest Diagnostics offers highly specialized tests that most normal labs don’t perform. They have more than 1,500 Esoteric Test Options,  utilizing cutting-edge technologies. These include  innovative applications of gene sequencing, bioinformatics, mass spectrometry, digital pathology and  proteomics to  meet the diagnostic needs of a wider variety of patients.

From personal experience and from reading many customer reviews, I feel like I can vouch for the quality of service at Quest Diagnostics.

Their technicians are both skilled and compassionate and they really know their medical waste management protocols.

I check for Waste Containers and chat with the technicians when I need to get a test done. I walk out relieved because it wasn’t an ordeal, (maybe even a relatively pleasant experience), and impressed with their knowledge of lab protocol.

Before you go:

*Parking differs from location to location. Double check the information to make sure it applies to the location you will be visiting.

*Bring the following to your appointment:

 The lab order from your doctor. Doctors usually send the lab order electronically and you may not even have received a backup copy. If this is the case, call ahead to check if the order was sent and/or received by the Quest Diagnostics lab.

 – Photo identification

 – Current health insurance information

It’s important to also know if your test requires fasting the day before and/or morning of your appointment. Your healthcare provider should have indicated this on your lab order or during your visit. If you are not sure, call to check with your provider.

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We are MedWaste Management – California’s medical waste disposal experts!

Established in 2008, MedWaste Management brings great benefit to the healthcare industry and the general public alike. We publish this blog to to spread useful and practical information to help people stay safe, smart and healthy!

Call us with any questions or to start service at (866) 254-5105. We are always happy to speak!

Check out our services and other great resources in the links below.

Medical Waste Disposal Services 

MedWaste’s Blog Index

Medical Waste Regulations

Medical Waste Products 

Home Generated Medical Waste Drop-Off Points In California

 

Reducing the Impact of Hospital Medical Waste – One Red Bag at a Time

A study published this last June has shed light on an alarming statistic for hospitals. If the healthcare system of the United States were a country, it would rank 13th in the world for hazardous greenhouse gas emissions. Published in PLOS ONE, the study unveils the environmental and health impact of our country’s health care industry.

Previously, investigators had only looked at the amounts of energy used by medical facilities in the United States, estimating that they were contributing 8% of the country’s greenhouse gases. This number changes dramatically when you begin to factor in other variables, such as medical waste disposal inside of hospital.

While hospitals are meant to secure the health and safety of the population, the methods are at the same time having a negative effect on public health. Due to the sheer number of harmful materials being produced during the course of health care in the United States, it is estimated that the pollutants generated are responsible for 470,000 DALYs annually. DALY – disability adjusted life years – is the measurement of years lost due to health issues, disabilities and premature death.

That number is comparable to the number of lives lost each year due to preventable medical errors as reported by the Institute of Medicine in 1999. That report sparked outrage, and major reform for patient safety in health care facilities. As this is of similar magnitude, it is important that health care providers take note of it now, and begin initiating practices that help to reduce their carbon footprint.

Medical Waste Disposal and the Environment

The way in which you are disposing of your hospital’s medical waste can make a drastic impact on your contribution to greenhouse gases. The production and then destruction of disposable products, such as red bags, emit dangerous gases into the breathing air. To reduce this, some hospitals have resorted to reusable containers where ever possible, especially in the transport of medical waste from its origination site to the storage area.

These containers follow all of the same guidelines outlined by the federal and state government, yet because they are being cleaned and reused continually, their use is reducing greenhouse gases. Just replacing the red bags in certain areas will make a big difference. Consider the tens of thousands you might use each year, and then multiply that number by the number of hospitals around the country. Once you begin to look at those numbers on a nationwide, or even statewide, scale you can see how the methods you use for medical waste disposal are a huge contributor to greenhouse gases.

Speak with MedWaste Management pros about actions you can take to reduce the amount of products being used to remove medical waste from your facility. Together, our mission can be to protect the inhabitants of the entire planet, not just the patients inside of our facility.

199 Cases Where Toxic Agents Almost Slipped Through the Cracks

The Federal Select Agent Program conducted their first ever annual report, discovering 199 instances where lab technicians were inadvertently exposed to toxic or infectious substances last year. Luckily, all of these were near misses. Yet they do unearth a need for continued education and high standards when it comes to the handling and removal of samples from laboratories across the nation.

The Federal Select Agent Program is responsible for overseeing dangerous substances that are studied inside of federal, state, private and academic labs. These substances include things like the bird flu, Ebola virus and even anthrax. New regulations were issued to the agency in 2014, resulting in an overall inspection of the handling of certain dangerous elements. It was during this inspection that agents found 199 cases where a lab worker was a breath away from becoming infected with a potentially deadly agent.

The safe handling of certain dangerous agents has been a focus ever since it was reported by the CDC that several labs had mishandled dangerous pathogens in the past, putting the entire surrounding population at serious risk of mass infection. As a result, the CDC, Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture are now working jointly on a task force that works solely to monitor these labs and their medical waste disposal procedures among other things.

In total, there were 12 potential losses uncovered, and a total of 233 potential releases of toxic agents. When investigated further, it was found that all of the potential losses could be traced to either a clerical error or of samples being destroyed in an autoclave by mistake. Medical waste disposal for laboratories has to include education on which types of agents are acceptable for that type of destruction. With some toxins, the autoclave will actually release harmful gases, putting the lab worker at risk of infection when the mechanism is opened.

As for the 233 potential releases of a toxic agent, there were 199 instances in which a lab technician may have been exposed by error. This included an instance where viable Anthrax had mistakenly left a military base and was sent to a number of outside laboratories both in the US and abroad. Luckily, none of these potential releases resulted in illness, death or the spread of infection to any surrounding area.

Medical waste disposal for laboratories is often of a much larger scope than in other types of facilities. Not for the amount of medical waste being generated, but for the types of agents and toxins it may have been exposed to. Laboratories that are operating as research agencies need to be acutely aware of the types of substances they are disposing of, and ensure that it is being segregated away from any typical medical waste and common garbage.

Do You Know Where Your Surgery Center’s Medical Waste Will Eventually End Up?

The journey of medical waste begins the moment it is removed from the human body. In a surgery center, it could be a small tumor that has been removed or tissue samples after a procedure. Here it is placed inside of a biological waste bag before being transported to a designated pick up area.

At the Pick Up Area for Medical Waste

The pick up area inside of your surgery center should be removed from patient rooms and surgical suites. There should be outside door access to reduce the risk of contamination from the materials being brought back inside the facility. It should also be locked, without access only permitted to authorized personnel. This would include drivers for the biological waste disposal company you work with.

Pick Up of Medical Waste

Licensed drivers in state approved vehicles will arrive at your facility for pick up. They will note the amount and types of medical waste reserved for destruction, and ask for signatures from authorized members of your staff. You will also be provided with documentation proving that they retrieved the medical waste from your surgery center.

If you are using reusable containers for medical waste, these may be switched out during this time. The drivers will take your full containers and provide you with sterilized new ones to use.

The medical waste retrieved from your surgery center will then be hauled to a special treatment facility. This facility should have special licensing from the state that allows them to dispose of medical waste from surgery centers.

Inside the Medical Waste Treatment Facility

Once the medical waste reaches a treatment facility, it is segregated by type, depending on the color of the bag or other container. The bags are left unopened, and either put into an autoclave until sanitary or incinerated. If autoclaved, the waste is then further broken down to reduce the amount of waste left over. This is typically done by shredding the materials. In most instances, materials that have been subjected to an autoclave can then be added to regular trash in an ordinary landfill.

Some plastics might even be recycled after having been sterilized inside of an autoclave. The material left over is then reused in a way that will decrease the impact your surgical center has on the environment.

Regulated Medical Waste Disposal Companies

While the licensing and regulation of medical waste disposal transporters and companies may vary slightly from state to state, all have to adhere to stringent guidelines set forth by OSHA, the EPA and various other governmental bodies. This is to ensure the safety of workers inside of your surgery center, as well as the general population and the environment.

Make sure that when you are looking at ways to better manage the biological waste inside of your surgery center, you are checking that these licensing requirements are being met. This will ensure that your facility is in compliance at all times with all laws and regulations.

The Importance of Biological Waste Disposal for Doctor’s Offices

You are likely already familiar with the terminology biological waste, and those bright red bags that yell out “handle with caution”. But do you know exactly what is supposed to go inside (and not), and what happens to it once it leaves your office? There are risks associated with the handling of biological waste in doctor’s offices, and severe consequences if not completed correctly.

Biological – or biohazardous – waste is defined as being any waste that contains potentially infectious agents. These are found in any area where human blood and tissues are exposed, such as in your doctor’s office. Some common examples include:

  • Bodily Fluids – This includes amniotic fluid, semen, saliva, pleural fluid and vaginal secretions.
  • Microbiological Waste – Usually the byproducts of laboratory testing, such as live viruses, blood samples, specimen cultures and the devices used to transfer them.
  • Blood Products – Blood, plasma and any other tissues or fluids containing blood residue.
  • Pathological Waste – Pathological waste refers to any organic object that is identifiable as being human in source, such as body parts, tissues and organs.
  • Sharps Waste – Items, such as needles, that not only potentially contain harmful pathogens from biological waste but that also have the potential to pierce skin and transfer those pathogens into the blood stream of another individual.

In 1988, the US Congress enacted the Medical Waste Tracking act, which allowed them to study the methods of medical waste disposal for doctor’s offices and begin regulating it. As a result, all medical waste must now be collected by a company with a specific license for handling hazardous products. They are then held responsible for rendering it harmless by using one of the following methods:

  • Incineration: The EPA estimates that up to 90% of all biohazardous waste is being incinerated. This must be done by a licensed contractor, either on or off of the site where medical waste is collected. Incineration offers many benefits besides sterilizing, such as reducing the overall amount of waste and avoiding having to sterilize it before breaking it down.
  • Autoclaving: When medical waste from doctor’s offices is subject to an autoclave, this usually entails two steps. The first is the sterilization of the waste using intense steam, followed by shredding the materials. This usually allows for the waste to then be disposed of in a typical landfill.

As the administrator for a doctor’s office, you have the responsibility of ensuring that medical waste disposal is being conducted in a manner that reduces its risk to your patients, staff, and the environment. Your optimal choice in guaranteeing this is by working with a professional medical waste disposal company. Not only can a company like MedWaste Management sterilize and destroy medical waste generated inside of your doctor’s office, they can help you to put a system in place for its safe collection and storage.

OSHA Weighs in on Blood Collection Tubes and Recycling

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) oversees practices and policies that could be hazardous to the physical well-being of workers in any field. With health care workers, one of their primary concerns is with the safe handling of sharps. Needle pricks may be small cuts to the skin, but the potential to introduce disease into a worker makes them a high risk to work with.

Not only has OSHA addressed the risk potential of sharps by demanding the use of special containers for their collection, they have furthered their cause by making recommendations for the use of tube holders. These devices are typically attached to the needle in order to facilitate the collection of blood when it is being drawn. In the past, some hospitals and other medical labs have attempted to reuse these tube holders to cut costs, yet to do so is putting the health of workers at risk.

Blood Collection Needles and Tube Holders

A blood collection needle is able to screw onto a blood tube holder, and a blood tube is inserted into the holder to collect the blood. The needle has two ends, one which is inserted into the laboratory patient, and one at the back the transports the blood into the blood tube. Modern blood tube holders can be reused, but are not in most circumstances in order to minimize a worker’s exposure to blood. The process of removing the tube holder from the needle increases the possibility that the health care provider will be injured by a needle stick.

Proper medical waste disposal for laboratories does not allow for the removal of tube holders before placing the needle inside of the sharps collection bin. OSHA specifically recommends that needles be disposed of immediately after use, including any blood tube holder that is attached to it. Removing this holder places worker’s at too high of a risk for possible injury and exposure to harmful blood pathogens.

There are very limited circumstances for when a contaminated needle or other sharp is allowed to be manipulated after its use. To do so, you will have to show that the action is required in order to complete a specific medical or dental procedure. Trying to save money on your laboratory costs by reusing parts of contaminated needles and collection devices is in violation of the standards set forth by OSHA.

According to OSHA, the appropriate disposal of contaminated sharps includes:

  • The close availability of sharp containers that contain an opening large enough to pass the entire blood collection assembly, including the blood tube holder.
  • Having sharp containers made portable for those employees who move between various patient rooms.

If you have your own questions or concerns about medical waste disposal in your laboratory, and how to handle sharps, MedWaste Management can help. With our expert methods, you will have no problem in meeting the demands of OSHA when it comes to medical waste disposal inside of your laboratory.

Medical Waste Disposal for Surgery Centers is a Leading Method for Protecting Our Planet

Medical waste disposal for surgery centers and large hospitals is arguably one of the most critical types of waste management in terms of protecting our environment. Administrators sometimes fail to realize that just a few small adjustments will significantly reduce the generated medical waste inside of a hospital, leading to a dramatic change in their impact on the environment.

Surgery Centers, and all health care related businesses, have different waste disposal requirements than other industry types. For example, the use of red bags is critical for identifying medical waste and ensuring that it is disposed of in accordance with local, state and federal law. Failure to do this will not only lead to fines, it could pose a public health hazard for an entire community.

There are a number of proven ways in which a hospital can save money with its medical and other waste disposal practices:

  • Switching from disposable to reusable sharps containers. The New York City Department of Sanitation estimates that a 1,000 bed hospital that makes this change would save up to $175,000 per year and 34,000 pounds of medical waste.
  • Using permanent waterproof mattresses when possible. The Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland Oregon switched out 95% of their disposable mattresses for permanent ones. The initial cost was large, but recouped in just one year. The savings in purchase costs are now $80,710 per year for this 341 bed facility, and they are contributing 16,350 pounds less of waste to the environment.
  • Replacing disposable diapers with cloth versions. Kaiser Permanente’s Northwest Region made a change from disposable to cloth diapers for newborns, resulting in a decrease in the amount of solid waste left in local landfills. Before implementing a change of this magnitude however, you need to address concerns related to infection control and infant skin care.

There is no real way of reducing medical waste generated by a hospital, short of cutting down on the patient load, but you can make a difference by switching the type. For example, you are always going to have to dispose of contaminated sharps, but switching to a type of container that can be sterilized and reused will help cut down on solid waste.

Effective medical waste disposal for hospitals not only addresses and removes these items from the facility, it looks for ways in which the hospital can save money and have a decreased impact on the environment. You can also try and use products that have been made using recycled materials to further help our planet. Even small hospitals can make a significant difference with simple changes in waste management and disposal.

Start by contacting MedWaste Management for more effective methods of medical waste disposal inside hospitals. Efficiency ensures that your management of medical waste is having a minimal financial and environmental impact.