Tag Archives: disposal of clinical waste

Biological Waste Disposal for Clinics

Biological Waste Disposal for Clinics

Is Your Clinic Prepared if a Zika Crisis Hits?

With the seasons about to change for the warmer across the continental United States, there is an increased chance that the mysterious Zika Virus will affect more Americans. So far this epidemic has been relatively confined to central and South America, but cases have been reported in Puerto Rico, and one Zika related death as a result. Clinic workers need to be aware of this possibility, and take special precautions to help prevent the spread.

One way that this can be done is by following the basic guidelines for biological waste disposal for clinics. The Zika virus is found in the blood, making it possible to be spread through the mishandling of any biological waste generated by a patient being treating for the illness.

What is Zika Virus Disease?

On February 1st of 2016, the WHO declared the Zika virus as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. According to the CDC it is likely that the virus will continue to spread to new areas. The disease is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, but since the outbreak, scientists have discovered the possibility that the virus is spread through human to human contact of bodily fluids. This gives any biological waste generated in your clinic through the care of an infected individual the possibility of spreading to someone else.

For the majority of individuals infected, the illness itself is mild, and may even go unnoticed. Symptoms last from a few days to a week, and may include red eyes, fever, rash and joint pain. The only way to confirm the presence of the Zika virus is through blood tests.

More alarming for health care workers is the risk to an unborn fetus if a pregnant woman becomes infection. There is a link between Zika and microcephaly, a birth defect that causes the brain to grow abnormally. Some studies have also suggested that Zika is causing a rise in Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a more serious illness that can cause the lungs to stop functioning.

Knowing the heightened risk of Zika, clinics should be reevaluating their biological waste disposal procedures to ensure that the spread of this virus is limited. All sharps should be immediately deposited into a sharps container, and other biological waste placed into receptacles that are not accessible to the public. Taking the time to make sure that every possible precaution is being made ensures the safety of your clinic workers, their families, and the public.

The CDC is reporting that the Zika virus can be found in the blood of an infected person for at least a week after transmission. If not careful, healthcare workers and clinics can inadvertently help to spread the disease by not disposing of contaminated sharps, vials, and other debris which has come into contact with blood. Get your clinic in line now, before the onset of summer brings an influx of Zika to the United States.

Medical Waste Disposal for Clinics

Medical Waste Disposal for Clinics

The Importance of On-Going Training for Medical Waste Disposal in Clinics

Pathogens safety training is one of many ways to introduce medical waste disposal in a clinic. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires clinics to update compliance programs annually. This provides you with the perfect opportunity to conduct employee training, identify new sources of medical waste, and institute plans on removing it safely from your facility.

Medical clinics are subject to safety inspections by OSHA. These comprehensive walk-throughs of your facility are used to identify possible hazards to employees and help you to devise plans to reduce them. Biological waste disposal for clinics is one of the areas where OSHA inspectors will expect to see full compliance with all of their regulations. This includes consistent records of on-site training programs for workers who are exposed to any medical waste.

To ensure that your clinic is always prepared for one of these inspections, all employees of your clinic should have received the following information within the last 12 months:

  • Contact information for state and local regulators of medical waste disposal
  • The standards for the safe handling of any bloodborne pathogens
  • Identification of biohazards at work
  • The safe use of personal protective devices and equipment
  • Separation of various biological waste into appropriate containers
  • Best response methods for emergency situations
  • Effective recording and reporting of biohazard issues in the workplace

Ongoing training is an essential part of maintaining the standards set forth by OSHA for the safe disposal of biological waste in a clinic. Professional medical waste disposal companies are able to help meet that standard by working closely with you and your employees to identify flaws in the plan and come up with an effective solution for rectifying them.

Voluntary Inspections of Your Clinic

One way to help ensure that your clinic will pass scrutiny from OSHA is by conducting your own inspections on a regular basis. Walk through the steps of patient care with your employees, and follow the path of any biological waste from the source until it reaches your secured safety area. Make note of any possible means of contamination from contact and come up with solutions immediately that will protect your staff and patients.

Keeping records of these self-audits along with the details of your on-going employee training will assist you in meeting the compliance standards of OSHA. They will also ask for records and manifests of your medical waste disposal practices, which should be supplied to you monthly by the removal company that you work with.

Even though you have a professional company in charge of medical waste disposal in your clinic, they are not a part of the day to day activities which generate this waste. In order to meet all OSHA standards, it is up to the clinic’s administration to ensure that all employees are being schooled on how to handle it from the point of generation until it has been successfully removed from the premises.

Medical Waste Disposal for Clinics

Medical Waste Disposal for Clinics

Do Your Clinic Workers Know What Does Not Go In the Red Bag?

When discussing medical waste disposal for clinics, a lot of emphasis is put on the red bags, and what can go inside. These seem like the ideal solution for all the medical waste that a clinic generates daily, yet there are certain items that they should not hold. Make sure that your employees are just as knowledgeable about what stays out of the red bag as they are about what needs to go inside.

Sharps Waste

Clinic workers know that needles and syringes belong in their little red boxes after use, but can overlook other sharps. Sharps medical waste is defined as being any object that has been contaminated with a pathogen or that may become contaminated with a pathogen through handling. It is also capable of penetrating or cutting skin or packing material… like a red bag. In addition to needles, sharps can include broken glass, scalpels, slides, capillary tubes and broken plastic. All of these must first go inside of a rigid medical waste container before they can be placed inside of the red bag.

Pharmaceutical Drug Waste

Drugs that meet the criteria for being a hazardous waste need to be separated from your clinic’s red bag medical waste. The best practice is to have hazardous pharmaceuticals incinerated at a state approved medical waste disposal facility. Train your staff to learn which drugs are deemed hazardous and set aside separate bins for their disposal.

Universal Garbage

It is a waste of resources to allow for everyday garbage and recyclable materials to be carried out of a clinic in red bags. This includes food scraps, packaging material, light bulbs and paper. Initiate a recycling program for non-contaminated plastics, glass and metals, and dispose of the rest with your regular garbage pick up.

Chemotherapy Equipment

While trace chemotherapy waste may go into a red bag, it must be marked appropriately for incineration. Trace chemotherapy waste is defined as having less than 3% of the original contents by weight. Empty drug vials, syringes, IV bags and tubing used for chemotherapy will all need to be separately sorted and bagged inside the clinic.

Bulk Liquids

Small quantities of liquids in stoppered vials can be placed inside of red bags, but bulk fluids may not unless they have been properly solidified first. Even then, your clinic will have to verify that the liquid is viable for red bag waste disposal. Liquid medical waste of any type should always be secured in containers specially designed to reduce the risk of leakage.

A mistake made in some clinics is the assumption that the red bags are the catch all for all of your waste. This can be a dangerous practice as well as a waste of resources. School clinic employees thoroughly on the use of red bags to ensure that yours are being used properly, and in compliance with the state and federal regulations.