Best Practices vs. Medical Waste Disposal Laws

Medical facilities shouldn’t rely on the minimum legal standard for medical waste removal, but rather focus on the highest standards for patient and staff safety.  

A medical waste removal program is designed to adhere to regulatory compliance and follow medical waste disposal laws to the letter.  Proper medical waste disposal is also about mitigating risk and preventing contamination for staff and the communities that medical professionals serve. Sometimes, the focus is too much on regulation and not enough on standards, which is why facilities need to set the bar higher and go beyond the legal minimum.

The Minimum: Medical Waste Segregation

Segregating medical waste and using properly marked containers is not only good practice, it’s the law in many states across the United States.

Waste Segregation = Safety For Staff, Patients, and Communities

Beyond the legal minimum, healthcare facilities should keep red bag waste separate from solid waste collection containers so that staff won’t blindly drop items in the wrong bin.  Properly labeling all containers, so regular trash goes into the trash, sharps go into sharps containers, and red bag waste goes into red bags helps keep patients and staff safe.

The Minimum: Medical Waste Storage

Many states stipulate that medical waste must be stored away from common areas.  Of course, the law says so, but there’s good reason why doctor’s offices and healthcare practices should care beyond what the law says.

Keeping Medical Waste At a Safe Distance = Healthier Practice

Medical waste containers should not be stored in common areas that are available to common traffic because of the nature of its contents.  By having designated areas for staff, keeping sharps containers stored at the right height, you’re doing your diligence by keeping medical waste away from open areas and focusing on your staff and patients’ safety.

The Minimum: Mandated Training

Training for staff who handle medical waste is a legal requirement per federal law. HIPAA training, DOT training, and OSHA training all come with specific criteria depending on the tasks, and some need to be fulfilled annually.  While training is a requirement, there’s plenty of reasons to keep your staff up to date, and not just because the law says so.

Trained Staff = Safe Staff, Safe Patients

A compliant, safe, and efficient medical waste removal program is only as strong as the people who implement and follow it. One of the top mistakes medical waste generators make is not training staff consistently. A streamlined program mitigates risk. Agencies like the EPA and OSHA offer resources for medical waste producers to help prepare a training program that will ensure the safety of workers, as well as decrease the chances of infection and contamination, and that tells your patients you care about them and your staff.

Go beyond the law and work with a certified and professional medical waste removal provider like Red Bags to let your staff and patients know that laws matter, but so do they.  Established by professionals with extensive experience in the medical waste business, Red Bags helps our customers to stay in compliance with the law, but also go above and beyond for health and safety.

Want to learn more? Follow Red Bags’ blog to be up to date on the latest happenings in the medical waste industry.

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