Category Archives: Medical Waste Disposal

COVID-19 waste disposal

Avoiding the Spread of COVID-19 With Medical Waste Disposal

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have seen an abundance of waste from healthcare facilities across the country caring for individuals infected with coronavirus. In order to help stop the spread of COVID-19, healthcare staff needs fresh face masks and gloves regularly when interacting with infected, asymptomatic, and healthy patients. Medical and biohazardous waste produced by the disease also needs to be disposed of carefully to prevent contamination. MedWaste Management can explain how to dispose of medical waste safely so that health workers and patients are protected.

What The CDC Recommends

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 waste should be processed with the same methods as all other medical waste. Similarly, the usual disinfectant methods for laundry and food service utensils are just as effective on those items that may be contaminated. As long as you know how to dispose of medical waste in accordance with high safety precautions and standards, there is no additional risk of spreading COVID-19 to staff and waste management teams.

Federal and State Compliance

Now that you know how to dispose of COVID-19 medical waste, how do you find a reputable company to meet your needs? Every medical waste management company is required to operate in accordance with both federal and state regulations, as well as local laws. This, along with proper liability and workman’s compensation insurance, ensures that your company’s waste disposal services will be performed correctly. To find out if a waste management company is in compliance and insured, simply ask them to provide their permits, licensing, and documentation. All legal companies will do this upon request. In the state of California, they should also be registered with the California Department Of Public Health (CDPH).

Adhering to High Safety Standards

how to dispose of medical waste during COVID-19

When looking for a waste management company for your COVID-19 waste, you want a company that adheres to all relevant standards and precautions for the safety of your staff. There should be minimal hassle for your employees and limited contact with waste. Choose a company like MedWaste Management that comes directly to you to pick up and dispose of waste. We prioritize every safety policy when dealing with waste that can spread COVID-19 or other illnesses. A company’s reputation is also an important factor when you are searching for a means of how to dispose of your medical waste. Look for records of positive online reviews from local businesses.

Flexibility that Fits Your Business

Many waste management companies will lock you into a contract and may hit you with hidden fees. MedWaste Management has no contracts or hidden fees and always offers competitive prices. We work around your schedule to provide timely pick-ups for medical waste and biohazardous waste, as well as paper shredding, with no minimum charges. You’ll see how our team comes to you to dispose of medical waste with little to no-contact, to help promote social distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Contact MedWaste Management today to learn why we are the premier choice of how to dispose of medical waste in California.

Most Important Factors to Consider when Disposing of Medical Waste

When you’re considering all of the medical waste that your healthcare facility produces daily, no doubt the first question on your mind is that of efficiency. Your facility has to maintain a safe and clean environment to keep your patients at ease, and their feelings of security are no doubt your first priority. It’s easy to just want your medical waste gone without really caring how it goes.

However, there is an important question of safety to consider. This is important for your patient’s peace of mind as well!

We consider no safety protocol to be too trivial to give our utmost attention, and we encourage fellow members of the healthcare community to follow good practice in this regard. Here are the most important factors to keep in mind when you dispose of medical waste.

There are Many Types of Medical Waste

The first and most important thing to remember when seeking to dispose of medical waste is that there is a great variety of medical waste disposal situations that demand different solutions. Different types of waste have different regulations for the disposal of medical waste based on the potential danger of their transport and disposal. Sharps, for example, as long as they are properly contained, pose a minimal threat compared to biohazardous waste. Pharmaceutical waste poses a unique threat, as it carries the potential for abuse in the wrong hands. With this in mind, you’ll have to keep the unique protocol of each type of waste in mind.

Leave Disposal to the Professionals

This isn’t a matter of preference. You must adhere to medical waste disposal regulations by contracting an authorized transporter. All medical waste must be transported to an authorized treatment facility. Even in the case of a vehicle failure or emergency, there is a standard of procedure to be followed. There are medical waste disposal regulations in place to ensure that every part of the process goes smoothly, so it’s best to trust the system.

Use the Correct Containment Methods

Regardless of which contractor you choose to dispose of your medical waste, you will have to take certain precautions yourself. Even the best medical waste disposal specialist can’t be there every day, after all. The greatest caution must be taken when storing medical waste in between disposals. Particularly in the case of sharps waste, you must be sure to use puncture proof protective equipment.

When it comes to containing medical waste before you dispose of it, any and all employees that will be dealing with medical waste in any part of the course of their duties must be up to date with OSHA standards. While this does entail a certain amount of work and planning, no safety protocol is too trivial to observe. Meeting with OSHA standards every year will insure that you have a safe and functional waste disposal process.

If you’re interested in learning more about medical or biohazardous waste disposal, read more on our blog at MedWaste Management. We provide resources to help you learn more about waste disposal processes so that you can make the most informed decisions for your facility.

Drug Take Back And Sharps Collection Day In Napa County

Drug Take Back And Sharps Collection Day In Napa County – Saturday, October 27, 2018, from 10am to 2pm, at numerous Napa County locations.

The Police Departments and Sherriff’s offices in Napa County, along with Kaiser Permanente and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), will host unused medication and sharps (used syringes and needles) collection events on Saturday, October 27, 2018, from 10am – 2pm, at numerous locations around Napa County.

Residents in the area are encouraged to bring their unused or expired over-the-counter and prescription medications to one of six collection locations throughout Napa County. It is recommended that any personal information on medication containers be removed or blacked out before dropping off. Additionally, these one-day collection sites can legally accept federally-designated “controlled” substances that include many highly addictive prescription medications such as morphine and OxyContin, as well as illegal narcotics such as LSD and ecstasy.

Home generated medical sharps (needles, syringes, epinephrine auto-injectors, etc.) will be accepted for disposal at all of the October 27th sites as well. State law prohibits the disposal of home generated sharps in trash or recycling containers. Improper disposal of home generated sharps is a health and safety threat to children, home health care providers, trash & recycling workers, and pets through accidental needle stick injuries. Sharps that are not disposed of properly can also end up on beaches and riverbanks, waterways, parks and more. Ideally, sharps should only be transported in an approved container obtained from a physician or pharmacy. A tightly sealed, leak- and puncture-resistant container with a lid, such as a bleach bottle, coffee can, or other similar container, is an acceptable alternative for transportation of sharps to the event. These containers should be labeled as “sharps.”

These collection sites accept sharps and unused or expired over-the-counter and prescription medications, and “controlled” substances that include many highly addictive legal and illegal drugs.

“Many people don’t realize that flushing medications down the toilet or putting them down the drain can lead to water pollution and harmful effects on aquatic life,” said Stephanie Turnipseed, Pollution Prevention and Outreach Coordinator with the Napa Sanitation District. “Medication can pass right through the wastewater treatment process and enter our waterways, so the best thing to do is to bring your medicines to a take-back event or one of the year-round drop-off locations for safe disposal.”

In addition to the environmental impact of improperly disposed medications, prescription and over-the-counter drugs that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to misuse and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that the majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.

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October 27th Medication And Sharps Collection Event Sites:

American Canyon Police Department

Address911 Donaldson Way E, American Canyon, CA 94503

Napa County Sheriff’s Office

Address1535 Airport Blvd, Napa, CA 94558

Kaiser Permanente Medical Offices – East Parking Lot

Address3285 Claremont Way, Napa, CA 94558


Yountville Police Department

Address1950 Mulberry St, Yountville, CA 94599

St. Helena Police Department

Address1480 Main St, St Helena, CA 94574


Calistoga Police Department

Address1234 Washington St, Calistoga, CA 94515

Can’t make the collection event on October 27th?

Those unable to take items to the event can dispose of unwanted pharmaceuticals (uncontrolled substances only) and home generated sharps year-round at the Napa-Vallejo Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility located at 889A Devlin Road, next to the Transfer Station in American Canyon. The facility is open every Friday and Saturday from 9am to 4pm.

For “uncontrolled” substances and sharps, there are several local year-round opportunities for safe and legal disposal, which can be found online at

Mail back services are available for your home generated sharps. Additional year-round options for residential medical sharps can be found online at or call the Napa County Department of Public Works for more sharps disposal information at 707-253-4094.

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

Biohazard Waste Disposal

Hazardous Waste VS. Bio Hazardous Waste

Know the difference.

Yes. The two terms sound similar. However, hazardous waste is very different from bio-hazardous waste. Therefore, hazardous waste disposal would be different than bio-hazardous waste disposal. Though they  both can be produced in a health care environment, bio hazardous waste is what is typically generated in a health care setting, in the majority of circumstances. Bio-hazardous waste includes used syringes, razors, lancets and other devices that come in contact with bodily fluids. Both human and animal fluids.

Hazardous waste on the other hand, refers specifically to waste that waste deemed hazardous by the RCRA ACT. A waste would be deemed hazardous based on its level of re-activity. Some are considered hazardous since they are flammable, others because they are are corrosive toxic or poisonous. These substances need to be handled, stored and disposed of in a very specific way. While there are numerous and effective requirements for the disposal of bio-hazardous waste, hazardous waste requirements and regulations are more stringent. This is certainly due to the stronger danger posed by the mistreatment of hazardous wastes.  The disposal for hazardous waste is monitored and regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Toxic Substance Control and other Federal, state and local bodies.

There is a lot of information out there about the proper disposal and treatment of bio-hazardous waste, medical waste, hazardous waste and other wastes. Treating waste correctly is very important for our way of living and also reflective of our general social attitudes.

– Remember, MedWaste Management provides great bio-hazardous and hazardous waste disposal along with other great services and products.

Call us today to start service! We are always happy to speak! (866) 254-5105

Our Services:

Medical Waste Disposal Services.

Bio-Hazardous Waste Disposal Services.

Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal Services.


Medical Waste Regulations In California.

Home Generated Sharps Waste Collection Points.



Preparing Your Veterinary Office For An OSHA Audit

It Starts With Staff Training

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been increasing the number of audits performed each year, including those done at veterinary clinics and other medical institutions. These unannounced visits can mean big trouble in the form of fines if you are not properly prepared. This includes having a clear and efficient system of medical waste disposal in place, that is practiced without fail.

The medical waste disposal program you have initiated in your veterinary hospital is only as good as the workers you have put in place to take charge of it. Training is the single most important way to ensure that your OSHA inspection will go smoothly. This cannot be a one time event, you must be providing continuous training regularly to all workers who have contact with medical waste inside of your facility.

Working with a medical waste disposal company will help you to make sure that you are providing comprehensive on site training, and that the material offered is up to date with the latest standards set forth by OSHA.

Start by implementing a new employee orientation that covers the expectations and methods for medical waste disposal in your veterinary hospital. Also make sure that you are being given the latest news and updates from OSHA, and relaying that information to your employees immediately. The last step is to document all of the training taking place for when there is an audit of your facility.

Operate Like OSHA Is Always Watching

Not allowing deviations from standards in the day to day operations, ensures that none occur when OSHA is watching. This means having your own self inspections regularly, where you look at your medical waste disposal methods with an objective eye. Correct even the slightest mishap on the spot so that your workers know what is always expected of them.

Put a staff member in charge of organizing the documents required by OSHA. This not only includes staff training reports, but manifests of medical waste disposal records showing the amount and types of medical waste picked up, and its final destination point.

Designate A Point Man

You should have one or two individuals designated to be the “tour guide” for an OSHA inspector. They will greet the inspector and accompany them as they make their way through your medical facility. Instruct them to take notes and even pictures of any violations that the inspector may find so that you can be better prepared in the future. This person should show an active interest in the audit, and a willingness to comply with the regulations. Having the right individual fill this role can make a difference when it comes to receiving warnings versus fines!

If you are prepared ahead of time, then you should be able to breeze through any audit thrown at your clinic by the government.  Just remember to keep your systems for medical waste disposal up to date, and your staff trained in the proper ways to follow those procedures to the end.

Remember, MedWaste Management provides great compliance services for all customers, which includes: medical waste disposal; OSHA employee training for blood borne pathogens; OSHA self audits; an MSDS database, along with other great services and products.

Call us today to start service! We are always happy to speak! (866) 254-5105

Our Services:

Medical Waste Disposal Services.

OSHA Employee Training For Blood Borne Pathogen

Online Medical Waste Disposal Tracking Documents

Bio-Hazardous Waste Disposal Services.

Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal Services.


Occupational Safety And Health Administration (OSHA)

The Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH aka Cal/OSHA)

Medical Waste Regulations In California.

Home Generated Sharps Waste Collection Points.

Medical Waste Disposal By Mail-Back For Dental Offices? We don’t think so…

Dental offices usually don’t generate that much medical waste.

Like all health care providers, a dental office is obligated to manage their medical waste in compliance with local and federal laws. The regulations are very much alike for all health care facilities, however there are certain distinctions in disposal methods that a dental provider should be aware of, because of the fact that they don’t generate that much medical waste.

Your first step in regulated medical waste disposal, is the identification of potential medical waste that you are generating i.e. used syringes, used gauze etc. Once that has been separated from the common trash, you have to implement a plan for the safe removal and disposal of the medical waste. You typically have two options:

  • Use a mail-back medical waste disposal method
  • Medical waste pick up from a licensed contractor

You typically have two options for small quantity medical waste disposal.

Mail back medical waste disposal strategies can work with a smaller dental practice, yet even then there are many flaws which could leave you with a difficult time packaging and getting your mail-back system out the door for proper disposal. On top of that is the issue of paperwork, and written proof that your medical waste was disposed of correctly in an approved facility.

Not only is this a risky practice for dental offices in terms of potential fines, it is a time consuming one. You must train your employees on the proper methods for the collection of medical waste, and how to properly close, contain, and seal the mail-back system. Sometimes important parts get lost; like a label, or one of the small boxes. Certain agencies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, will want to verify that such training is taking place inside of your dental office.

Going with a medical waste disposal company seems to make the most sense!

The second option, working with a licensed medical waste disposal company, can cover all of your obligations and save you time. MedWaste Management is able to not only train dental office employees, we study their activities to find effective solutions for collecting medical waste right where it is being generated. This includes the use of sharp containers and bio-hazard bags in a way that does not disrupt your routine patient care.

Not only can working with a medical waste disposal company save you money in potential fines, they save you valuable time. Companies like MedWaste Management will provide you with all of the necessary paperwork to prove compliance, alleviating you of this burdensome task. Without this mountain of paperwork to contend with, you’ll have more time on your hands to tend to patients and ensure quality health care.

With medical waste disposal for dental offices, the cheapest option is not always the most cost effective. You need to look at the entire scope of what is involved with proper medical waste disposal in order to make an informed choice on what is best for your dental practice.

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.

Illegal Dumping of Medical Waste is an Expensive Gamble

This past June, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection let it be known that violations with medical waste disposal for hospitals will be treated harshly. They fined both the UPMC and the Allegheny Health Network after an investigation found both were illegally disposing of their medical waste.

The investigation began almost 3 years ago when a local waste management company discovered untreated medical waste was mixed in with municipal garbage at a state landfill. Initially, it was believed that all had come from UPMC, but a further probe revealed that 2 hospitals in the Allegheny Health Network were also responsible. Both of the health systems were fined, yet the investigation continued around the state to ensure that no other medical facilities were also guilty of the practice.

Biological waste disposal violations were subsequently found in 12 hospitals operated by UPMC, which was then hit with a $451,000 fine. It was found that they were dumping large quantities of contaminated needles, wound dressings containing blood, and other bodily fluids right at the landfill. Two hospitals in the Allegheny Health Network – West Penn and Forbes – are guilty of similar practices, and were fined a total of $86,900 by the state.

According to a representative from the state’s environmental protection agency, the biggest concern was that none of the waste had been sterilized prior to shipment and dumping. This practice puts the local water supply at risk of contamination as the medical waste begins to break down and decompose on its own. The presence of contaminated needles was also noted, as these are an immediate health risk for any individual who comes into contact with them.

A spokesperson from the Allegheny Health Network admits a breakdown in their normally strict policies of medical waste disposal. Once the breakdown was discovered, they immediately took steps to reeducate staff members involved in the path of medical waste inside of the hospitals. They also opted to begin using a professional medical waste disposal company that could ensure that all medical waste was properly sterilized before it was left at any landfill.

What Led to These Violations

During the inspections following the initial discovery of untreated medical waste in a landfill, investigators found a number of violations inside of area hospitals. Noted was improper labeling, storage, and the handling of untreated medical waste before it even left the facility. This is why it is extremely important to implement a strategy that starts at the very collection of medical waste from where it is being generated.

To avoid this happening to your medical facility, it is imperative that you work with a reliable medical waste management service provider. Not only do we treat medical waste, be assist in educating your employees, providing you with the proper materials for collection, and structuring a plan for its safe removal from your hospital. This is your best defense against having to pay almost half a million dollars in penalties.

Biological Waste Disposal for When It’s a Messy Job

Biological waste disposal for clinics is typically structured for easy collection at the generation site and transport to a holding area. Yet not every situation is simple. Spills and accidents inside of a clinic can cause biological waste to enter common areas, and require quick action to remove before anyone is infected.

Safety precautions and procedures need to be in place inside of your clinic to help contend with a biological waste spill. Taking steps now to prepare for such an incident will help to ensure that the effects are not catastrophic.

Hazardous bloodborne pathogens could be present in even the smallest trace of blood or other bodily fluids. All staff members must be provided with clear direction on how to approach these situations and fix them, in a way that takes their own health and safety into consideration.

Steps to Follow When Facing a Biological Waste Spill in a Clinic

  • Secure the area and prohibit any patients or other unauthorized personnel to gain access
  • Use gloves and other protective gear to avoid direct contact with the biological waste
  • Clean spills using disposable towels only after ensuring that there are no broken glass fragments
  • If the spill contains pieces or broken glass or other objects that can pierce the skin, these should be cleaned using a disposable brush and pan or other device that can be subjected to sterilization afterwards
  • Assume that all substances are biohazardous waste and dispose of them accordingly in bags labeled as such
  • Wash hands using a sterilizing soap and warm water
  • Log the incident and the type of biological waste involved
  • Ensure that the waste is retrieved by your medical waste disposal company as soon as possible

When faced with cleaning up a blood spill or other biological waste, commercial cleaning products and regular trash bags are not sufficient. To protect the integrity of your clinic, you have to ensure that the entire area that was contaminated has been completely sterilized, and that the collected medical waste is contained safely.

How Your Medical Waste Disposal Company Can Help

Of course in the heat of the moment you are not going to be able to call up your biological waste disposal service provider to clean up a spill, but they can assist you in enacting safe plans for when they do occur. The convenient placement of cleaning materials, waste bags and other tools will help to ensure that you are able to clean up a biological spill quickly and efficiently.

Don’t wait for the inevitable to happen before having a plan in place for dealing with it. Accidents occur when you least expect them, but when they involve biological waste, you don’t have the luxury of time. Talk with your service provider about proper training of your personnel and materials needed to ensure that even a large spill in your clinic will have no impact on the health of your patients and workers.

California’s Role in Shaping the Medical Waste Disposal Industry

When it comes to medical waste disposal rules and practices, no one is doing it better than the state of California. Since 1972, state lawmakers have been making a concerted effort to better regulate medical waste, providing federal regulators with an exemplary lead to follow.

The California Hazardous Waste Control Law – or HWCL – was enacted in 1972, four years before the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act – RCRA – was put into place by the federal government. Since that time, California has always been a few steps ahead of the feds, ensuring residents that they will not be affected by medical waste disposal hazards. Medical waste disposal for hospitals, clinics and any other type of healthcare facility is closely monitored at the state level, starting from the point at which it is generated all the way to the methods used for sterilization.

Not only was California first in recognizing the need for medical waste disposal regulation, they have enacted stricter regulations consistently over the last 5 decades:

  • As per the HWCL, the Department of Toxic Substances Control must grant permits to companies treating hazardous waste. The same was not initially set forth in the regulations given by the RCRA.
  • A list was made of hazardous wastes and a toxicity characteristic by the HWCL ten years before the RCRA put forth a similar list.
  • There is a sewer exclusion included for wastes as per the Clean Water Act, yet this exclusion is not recognized in the state of California.
  • California laws clearly define toxicity characteristics whereas the federal government makes no concessions, not even for copper, zinc or nickel. They also look at carcinogens, another point missed in federal regulations.
  • Under California law, more hazardous wastes are regulated that what is recognized by the federal government.

The stringent guidelines set forth by the California government may be good news for residents, yet it poses problems for healthcare facilities. Knowing the expectations of OSHA and the EPA is not enough. Health care providers must be up to speed on the myriad of rules given at the state level, on top of what can be expected form their federal counterparts.

In order to avoid systematic inspections and fines imposed by state regulators, the administrator of a dental office or health clinic in California needs to be fully aware of all of the rules being imposed. This makes biological waste disposal for dental offices a burdensome task that can consume your resources as you work to be compliant. Professional medical waste disposal companies are fully equipped to relieve you of the burden, making your facility safe for patients and your employees.

Don’t risk being subject to expensive fines due to accidental non-compliance with California laws. Use a locally based company that has been registered with the state in order to ensure that your medical waste disposal needs are being met, with regard for the laws enforced at every level.

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.