Medical Waste Disposal 101

Whether you’re a doctor, home health care worker, or school nurse, understanding medical waste disposal is crucial. Lack of knowledge can put your colleagues and those you care for, at risk. In this blog, we discuss the basics of medical waste disposal.

What Is Medical Waste?

Medical waste is any kind of waste that is hazardous or infectious. Medical waste is generated by the following types of organizations:

  • Medical practices
  • Dental Offices
  • Hospitals
  • Veterinary Clinics
  • Laboratories
  • Nursing Homes
  • Schools

How Is Medical Waste Harmful?

Medical waste often contains microorganisms that are potentially harmful to humans. If medical waste is dumped in a landfill, it can seep into the soil and pollute waterways. Open burning of medical waste is also dangerous as it can release harmful toxins into the air.

How Can I Decrease Medical Waste?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 50%-70% of a medical facility’s waste ends up in their biohazardous waste stream (red bags) even though only 2%-3% of their total waste can be classified as infectious waste. The right medical waste provider can help reduce the amount of non-biohazardous material that ends up in your bio-hazardous waste. They start by auditing your waste stream to determine what percentage of your current waste is non-hazardous waste. Next, they train your employees Training your employees in proper waste identification and segregation. Finally, they implement an action plan that includes written policies, effective signage, and proper disposal container placement.

How Should I Segregate Medical Waste?

Medical waste should never be combined with regular garbage where it poses a risk to human health and the environment. Instead, it should always be separated and placed in specialized and clearly-marked containers. Red bags should always be used for the following items:

  • Bloody gauze, bandages, and gloves
  • Tubing with blood
  • Blood and bodily fluids
  • Sealed sharps containers

Sharps containers must be clearly marked, and biohazardous waste should be labeled with the biohazard symbol.

What’s the Best Way to Transport Medical Waste?

The transport of medical waste should always be handled by a qualified provider. Medical waste transporters must follow U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) guidelines and use specialized vehicles. The DOT requires a permit when transporting more than 50 pounds of medical waste, and numerous regulations must be adhered to when transporting and disposing of medical waste. These regulations make it imperative to partner with a permitted, experienced, and reputable medical waste transport and disposal provider.

For more information on medical waste disposal best practices, please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.

Med Dog Waste Management, a division of American Document Securities, Inc., provides medical waste disposal services for businesses in Atlanta and Northeast Georgia.


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