Types of Medical Waste and Stages of Its Disposal

Sharps ContainerWhen it comes to medical waste disposal, there are two categories: regulated and unregulated. Around 75% to 90% of medical waste is unregulated or otherwise called general medical waste. It is similar to usual household waste and contains plastics and papers that haven’t come in touch with patients and are therefore classified as non-infectious. This kind of medical waste is disposed of according to municipal regulations. Thus only 10% to 25% of medical waste is infectious or regulated medical waste (RMW).

This RMW should be handled with utmost care since it could pose a health risk either by contamination of air or through direct contact with a person. A company like a good Houston medical waste disposal company can do this efficiently. An easy way to distinguish between the two types is to think “can this waste make others sick or kill them?” and if the answer is yes, the waste is regulated and should be given special treatment.

Types of Regulated Medical Waste

There are 8 types of RMW and it’s important to decide which of these types of waste your medical facility produces.

  1. Chemical: Expired disinfectants, lab reagents, film developers etc.
  2. Pathological: Human fluids or tissues e.g. blood, body parts etc.
  3. Sharps: Blades, knives, needles, scalpels, etc.
  4. Infectious: Waste that can cause infection from bacteria, virus, human or parasite, e.g. lab cultures, equipment, excreta or swabs
  5. Pressurized Containers: Gas cylinders and cartridges
  6. Pharmaceuticals: Expired or contaminated medications
  7. Radioactive: Unused liquids in lab research and/or radiography, contaminated glassware etc.
  8. General Waste: Waste that poses no risk to human health i.e. office papers, kitchen waste, wraps and general sweeping

Management of each of these types is different.

Stages of Medical Waste Disposal

Here are the various stages through which the medical waste has to go for its safe disposal.

Collection and Segregation: Firstly, the medical waste should be collected in such a way that it won’t come in contact with outside world out of their containers; so, the containers should be strong enough. Also segregation is important so as to separate liquids from solids and each category from others to make each of them ready for the proper treatment. Then each container should be labeled.

Storage and Transportation: The waste should be stored in specified areas that are inaccessible to general public and separate from food consumption areas. A refrigerator should also be present in this area if necessary. Sometimes special vehicles are provided by some facilities to transport the waste.

Treatment: Treatment process will include many equipment from carts, handling, conveying, shredding and compactors to recycling and sterilization.

Disposal: Once the waste is properly collected, stored, transported and treated, it can be sent to sewer system or municipal landfills.

All in all, great care is essential while disposing of medical waste and you should know how to do it. A good medical waste disposal company can help you in this and you can be stress-free.

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