It is rather obvious that hospitals generate large amounts of waste, but only 20% of this is biohazard waste that can either be toxic, infectious or radioactive. Though 20% doesn’t sound like it’s too much, hospitals make up to 5.9 million tons of waste on an annual basis, which is approximately 1,070,477,990 kilograms of biohazard waste generated each year. Given these figures, it comes as no surprise that there’s a massive demand for managing hospital waste.
However, very few people are actually aware of the various methods that are used to help deal with the disposal of the copious amounts of medical waste.
Mentioned below are nine ways that can help healthcare facilities manage hospital waste efficiently:
- Familiarise yourself with the laws surrounding medical waste
You need to be well aware with the rules and regulations issued by governing bodies with regards to medical waste management, so you can identify what’s known as ‘regulated medical waste’ versus other types of waste. Regulated medical waste basically includes waste that is polluted by bodily fluids, blood or other potentially infectious materials.
- Create a proper plan for waste management
This plan should clearly outline the correct methods to manage hospital waste. Ensure that you share the goals and objectives that you’ve set out to achieve with the plan with your staff at large, so that everyone knows what’s going on and what’s expected of them.
Re-evaluate your plan on an annual basis at least to see if there’s room for any alterations in the processes and policies involved. Equip staff with proper knowledge and training at the orientation itself and then at a later period or when and if there are any significant modifications made in the processes and policies.
- Wherever possible, put reusable products to use instead of single-use products
For instance, heavy duty tote boxes and certain medical instruments can be reused after they are adequately disinfected. Ensure that you check if a product is reusable before making a purchase. Re-examine your state regulations’ instructions on the product manual to check if products can be used more than once. Whilst not all items can be re-used, there will be things that can be, so storing them properly in a safe place where they don’t get damaged is important to save money long term.
- Place small medical waste containers in patient rooms
This is because large containers are very easily considered as regular trash bins by both patients and staff. Wherever possible, refrain from making medical waste containers accessible to anyone but staff.
- Maintain a separate ‘red bag waste’ container that’s separate from solid waste collection
Staff can get easily confused and accidentally drop items in the wrong bin when these are kept side by side. So, it is best to either label these large tote boxes so that different types of hospital waste don’t get mixed up.
- Using colour coded tote boxes to ensure proper segregation of waste
You can use red totes for all the waste from the red bag and green totes for waste that can be recycled. This is perhaps the best way to ensure that there is no mix up in hospital waste. You need to take full advantage of the colour psychology in order to manage hospital waste.
- Placing of signs
You can place signs all over the healthcare facility that clearly describes the type of waste that can be disposed in each container. You can resort to pictograms and visual reminders that can help the staff and patients understand the policies relating to waste disposal better, making them take the right step every time.
- Ensure that chemotherapy and pharmaceutical agents are disposed of in an appropriate manner
Impart adequate instructions to staff on the significance of not dropping used pharmaceuticals or trace or bulk chemotherapy waste in red medical waste bags. Such items should be properly separated for treatment such as incineration, in accordance to the state regulations.
- Carry out waste audits
Conduct spot checks periodically to check if the hospital waste is being dealt with properly and that your instructions are being followed properly. Be sure to share your findings with your staff and conduct retraining if it seems necessary.
With such massive amounts of hazardous medical waste being produced each year, hospitals need to resort to safe and effective disposal methods. If you follow these simple methods, it will keep various infections from spreading to patients, staff and the general public at large.
Get in touch with us today for more effective storage options at your facility.