5 Steps to Help Prevent the Spread of Disease in a Surgery Center
The recent Ebola breakout shocked the medical world. Not only because of the sheer number of people infected, but by the fact that medical personnel became infected as well. Improper handling of biological waste is one way in which any type of infection can be spread to workers in a surgery center.
The modern acceptance of outpatient surgeries has led to an added responsibility in small surgery centers. In order to help prevent the spread of an infectious disease found inside of organs, human tissue and blood being removed at a surgery center, these 5 steps should be followed at all times:
- Proper Hygiene and Personal Protective Equipment – Surgery center workers who are going to be exposed to infectious disease should be outfitted in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when performing procedures on patients. This includes the use of gloves, masks and special gowns that are disposed of after use. Removing these protective items must be done in a way that does not spread biological waste elements onto other clothing. Workers should also wash their hands with soap and water immediately after removing PPE in order to reduce the risk of spreading an infection.
- Ongoing Training of Staff – The continual reminder to surgery center employees about the importance of infection control is critical to mitigate the risk. Hold special training classes and keep surgeons informed of any new practices and policies that are put into place to better manage potentially infectious biological and pathological waste disposal.
- Partnering With a Reputable Medical Waste Disposal Company – The prompt removal of infectious biological waste will reduce the risk of contamination to workers in your surgery center. Enlist the help of a medical waste removal company that allows for a flexible schedule of pick-ups to ensure that you do not accumulate large amounts of infectious waste in your facility’s storage areas.
- Be Able to Identify the Different Categories of Medical Waste – A surgery center produces basic medical waste such as soiled linens, dressing and sharps, but you could also be generating pathological waste. Pathological waste includes organs, tissue, body parts and the products of conception. Talk with your disposal provider to enact a strategy for the safe and compliant removal of these items from your surgery center.
- Keep Biological Waste Away from Patient Areas – To avoid the spread of infection, biological waste should be contained in a receptacle that is clearly marked for its special purpose. Since non-medical individuals like patients will not understand the significance, it is important that these containers not be easily accessible in areas where patients are. To further reduce the risk of accidental contamination, the outsides of these containers should be kept impeccably clean at all times.
How Familiar Is Your Facility With the Categories of Biohazard Waste?
Hospital, clinic and doctor office professionals are aware that biohazard waste is classified and disposed off differently from regular waste products. Yet inside of the biohazard waste classification are four separate categories which further determine how they are disposed of. Failure to know this, and abide by the guidelines could cause harm to your employees and put the general population at risk for contamination.
Currently there are 4 separate categories of biohazard waste based on its physical form. Not every facility will produce all 4 types, but you should be aware of their existence. Each one must be identified, segregated, decontaminated and then disposed of in the appropriate manner to help minimize exposure to your employees, and reduce the risk of environmental release.
At no time should any biohazard waste be left unsecured or untreated in an area that is easily accessible to the public. Only trained personnel should be in charge of removing biohazard waste from generating areas and transporting it to your designated holding area for final disposal.
The Four Categories of Biohazard Waste Which Should Be Segregated Include:
- Solid Biohazard Waste – Any non-sharp item that has been contaminated with biological specimen material such as blood, tissue or bodily fluids. Gloves contaminated with culture material, plastics used for biological specimens, bench paper and plastic tubes of blood all fall into this category.
- Liquid Biohazard Waste – Bulk quantities of blood samples and bodily fluids that are greater than 25mls should be stored in a closed container that contains gaskets to prevent leaks. These containers should be further secured to avoid being tipped over during transport.
- Biohazardous Sharps – These are any item that is sharp enough to puncture the skin and that has come into contact with biological matter. It is important to note that while guidelines specify used needles and syringes, it is recommended that all sharps be placed in a plastic sharps container to avoid injury to personnel during transport.
- Pathological Waste – Human organs, tissues and body parts with the exception of teeth must be double bagged in biohazard bags and then stored in such a way that the release of any fluids is minimized. It is also necessary that these bags be labeled with a biohazard label.
The transport of these types of materials should be scheduled periodically throughout the day based on your facility’s needs, to a designated and secure storage area. Evaluate the amount of biohazard waste being generated, and then discuss a pick-up plan with your provider so that none is left inside of your hospital or clinic for longer than necessary.
Train all of your staff on the proper methods for disposal of any biohazard waste that applies to your medical setting. Knowing what goes where and how it should be transported will ensure that your patients, employees and the public are safe from any injury or illness that these types of waste products can cause.