History has proven time and again we have many reasons to be thankful for modern medical waste regulations and management.
Modern medical waste removal is governed by many laws, so much so that most take for granted just how long it has taken us to arrive at safe and effective medical waste management processes.
Medical waste removal became a hot button topic sometime in the late 1980s; at the time, beaches were being littered with disposed syringes, medications, and other healthcare-related waste. Laws such as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Medical Waste Tracking Act (MWTA) of 1988 further advanced the Solid Waste Disposal Act, and with modern technologies such as incinerators and autoclaves, microwave units, and various chemical systems, we are healthier and better for it, and the same goes for our environment.
With that said, we should be thankful for the laws and governing bodies to help deal with our medical waste, and here are just a few reasons why.
Better labeling means better safety.
Many states categorize waste into sub-categorizes, such as cultures and stocks, human blood, blood products, sharps, and animal waste. Keeping types of medical waste separate and using properly marked containers is not only mandated by law, it helps you choose how and when, not to mention whom removes the waste for you.
We have better training.
A compliant, safe, and efficient medical waste removal program is only as strong as the people who implement and follow it. 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.
Better infection control.
With laws come infection control programs, which help identify and reduce risks of infections in patients and healthcare workers. These programs help facilities make infection control plans, which include proper containers and signage, access to the right cleaning supplies, and the latest in personal protective equipment.
Better sharps management.
Sharps is actually the medical term for a sharp-pointed object that can cut or puncture the skin, and this includes needles, syringes, lancets, auto-injectors, and connection needles. Under the FDA, we have a stringent set of guidelines and laws on how to deal with sharps waste.
According to the FDA, sharps disposal guidelines state:
- Used sharps can only be disposed of in a sharps container
- Sharps containers may be purchased from supply companies, such as RedBags.com
- Sharps containers must be rigid, puncture-proof, and have lids that seal securely
For centuries, we have had to deal with the problem of what to do with the solid waste we generate. As technology, science, and public health has evolved, so, too has the knowledge of proper disposal needs, and for public health and safety reasons, we should all be thankful for these advancements.