Guidelines for Managing Chemotherapy Waste
Chemotherapy waste disposal includes a myriad of products and supplies involved in the administration of these life saving drugs. This includes their packaging, and the items used to administer them. Also included could be gowns, gloves and sheets if they were exposed to the drug during administration.
Safe handling of chemotherapy waste is crucial for the safety of health workers and patients. Chemotherapy waste is categorized as a hazardous waste because of the chemical properties of the specialized medications. Included in the list of hazardous chemotherapy drugs are arsenic trioxide, daunomycin, melphalan, uracil mustard and more. If your facility is directly involved in providing chemotherapy to patients, there is a good chance that at least one of these hazardous drugs is being used regularly.
Any and all waste that has been contaminated through the course of providing chemotherapy will be considered hazardous waste, and must be disposed of in a very specific manner. A medical waste disposal company should be able to provide your facility with the knowledge needed and products required for the safe disposal of chemotherapy related waste.
Disposal of Unused, Expired, or Discontinued Chemotherapy Drugs
There is a cancer drug repository program which allows a facility to donate chemotherapy drugs that they no longer need. The accepted drugs must be expired for a period of longer than six months and be donated inside of their original packaging that has never been opened. You could also return those drugs to their manufacturer if the container is not leaking and they have not been partially used.
Chemotherapy drugs that do not meet the criteria of other of these categories is categorized as hazardous medical waste and will have to be disposed of professionally. Containers used for its storage should be separate from regular medical waste. They must be rigid and puncture proof plastic containers clearly labeled as trace chemotherapy and incinerate only before being stored with other medical facility trash.
Soft materials that have been contaminated with chemotherapy drugs can be placed in biohazard bags, so long as they are tear resistant and meet 165 gram resistance to breakage. Sharps used to administer chemotherapy drugs will also have their own separate containers which must be marked for incineration as well.
Chemotherapy waste is to be incinerated only once it leaves your facility in the proper biohazard bags. It is extremely important that you properly label all containers holding chemotherapy waste so that it is not mistaken for regular hospital waste and disposed of incorrectly. Doing so could create a serious health threat to the local community.
Knowing, understanding, and following the procedures for chemotherapy waste disposal will ensure that it makes its way out of your facility safely, and disposed of properly. Stay up to date on the procedures and provide appropriate education to members of your staff to help in protecting them and the surrounding community.