A look at California medical waste management.

To protect the public and the environment from potentially infectious disease, the state of California has implemented the Medical Waste Management Program as part of the Environmental Management Branch. This agency regulates the generation, handling, storage, treatment, and disposal of medical waste by providing oversight for the implementation of the Medical Waste Management Act (MWMA).

Compared to other states, California’s medical waste management health and safety code is lengthy and extremely detailed. The latest document per the MWWA is 59 pages and it covers everything from definitions of medical waste to powers and duties, permits, treatment and storage, and of course enforcement.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the MWWA is its detailed regulations on trauma waste management, which is a rather specific event that not many other states cover, at least not explicitly in documents. According to the state’s website, this is any event that deals with the removal of human blood, human body fluids, and other associated residues from the scene of a serious human injury, illness, or death.  A trauma scene waste management practitioner shall register with the department. Registered trauma scene waste management practitioners must pay an annual fee of two hundred dollars ($200) to the department for deposit in a common fund used for this specific chapter.

Other highlights from California’s MWWA include:

  • Medical waste  shall be stored in an area that is either locked or under direct supervision or surveillance.
  • Sharps containers shall not be stored for more than thirty days without the written approval of the enforcement agency.
  • Acceptable treatments for medical waste include incineration and autoclave.
  • Pathology waste of a human nature shall be disposed of by interment, incineration, or alternative treatment technologies.
  • Pharmaceutical waste shall be treated by incineration or alternative treatment technologies approved.

The Medical Waste Management Program of California governs a number of local jurisdictions. The state’s enforcement policies are extremely stringent, starting with hefty fines and ending in jail time for repeated violations.

If you’re in a field that generates medical waste, you need to be aware of all federal and state medical waste regulations. Next up, we’ll take a look at how Colorado governs its medical waste.

California Medical Waste

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