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.