There are 5.9 million tons of medical waste each year.
Operating a medical practice comes with a few disclaimers. One of those being, “medical waste imminent.” You will have medical waste in the forms of sharp objects, gloves, gowns, culture, and even electronic waste. To take this a step further, depending on your specific facility, this list could grow exponentially longer. How is your practice handling medical waste?
First, let’s start with a basic definition of what medical waste is. MedPro describes medical waste as any unit that contains infectious, or potentially infectious, materials. This type of waste can be found in hospitals, physician’s practices, dental practices, labs, medical research facilities, and more.
Medical waste usually contains blood or other contaminants and needs to be disposed of properly to ensure that infections aren’t spread. Here are some “need to knows” on medical waste and your practice.
Medical Waste Containers
As you may have guessed, different types of medical waste exist that your practice will accumulate over time. Some of these include:
- Sharps (items that pierce the skin)
- Infectious Waste (items that cause infection)
- Radioactive (items contaminated by radiotherapy liquid)
- Pathological (items include fluids, body parts, and more)
- Pharmaceuticals (items include unused/expired/contaminated vaccines or drugs)
It is understandable why many practices dedicate a large amount of time to identify which category their medical waste falls into. There are still more details that must be figured out after that is sorted. In order for medical waste to be properly moved, it needs to be in an approved container. Different types of waste require different type of storage for transport. We urge your practice to check the fine print before moving medical waste.
Another reason that proper identification of your medical waste is crucial is for the shipping process. In order to ship many materials, as stated above, must be in specific containers. Further than this, the elements inside of the containers may need to be in puncture proof containers to eliminate hazards for those moving the waste.
If you have ever shipped anything, you are familiar with filling out a bill of lading. This is necessary when you are shipping medical waste for disposal that is regulated. If the waste that you are shipping is NOT regulated, sometimes this could be pharmaceutical waste, then you will not need a bill of lading.
Your practice may need to dispose of electronic personal health information (PHI) or paper PHI at some point. This will need disposed of properly to ensure that the information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. It is HIPAA mandated that covered entities adequately destroy and not simply leave behind receptacles that once contained ePHI.
For electronic waste, methods of destroying materials include clearing, purging, or in other ways destroying the media the drive once included. If you are outsourcing this task to a business associate, it will be necessary for you to obtain a BAA.
The good news about all of this is that you can hire a solutions partner to do the work for you. MedPro provides practices like yours with a low-cost alternative to properly manage, remove, and dispose of regulated medical and pharmaceutical waste.