Medical Waste Handling DON’Ts: It’s an Absolute “NO”

Medical Waste Handling DON’Ts

Medical Waste Handling can be overwhelming especially when there are so many important things that take up your time (including patients). Yet today more than ever, proper medical waste handling is vital to medical facilities across the United States. Fortunately, we’ve compiled this list of tips to help you manage your medical waste disposal to keep your patients and staff safe. Here are some major DONT’s when it comes to medical waste handling at your facility. Learn them, live them, love them and it will make your life easier.

It’s an Absolute “NO” on ALL The Below Medical Waste Handling Practices!

1.  DON’T put sharps directly into red bags.

Sharps can puncture even the thickest plastic bags and can transfer bloodborne pathogens (BBP), such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or hepatitis B virus (HBV) to anyone who comes into contact with it. Always place sharps into marked and puncture-resistant sharps containers.


2.  DON’T overlook other sharps besides needles and syringes.

Needles and syringes aren’t the only sharp objects that you should dispose of in sharps containers. Broken glass, capillary tubes, glass pipettes, lancets, and scalpel blades must be placed in sharps containers as well. Always place all sharps in a sharps container to protect people from injury and disease.


3.  DON’T overfill your sharps containers.

Always replace them when they have reached the fill line marked on the side. Contact your medical waste handling company for extra containers.


4.  DON’T place pharmaceuticals in medical waste.

Best practice is to dispose of pharmaceuticals in special pharmaceutical waste containers. Complicated regulations also dictate the disposal of different types of pharmaceutical waste, potentially in separate containers. Your medical waste handling company can help you determine how to dispose of pharmaceutical waste.


5.  DON’T toss mercury-containing materials with any other waste.

Not in with the medical waste. Not in the garbage. Not in the drain. Not with other RCRA-hazardous wastes. Not in sharps containers. Mercury, dental amalgam, amalgam capsules, extracted teeth with amalgam fillings, dental traps, thermometers, and aneroid blood pressure devices must be disposed of as mercury hazardous waste or handled as items that are being sent for reclamation.


6.  DON’T put aerosols, alcohol, or chemicals into medical waste.

Aerosols are combustible. Rubbing alcohol is flammable. Chemicals are not biohazardous wastes. Seek expert guidance on the disposal of any chemicals you may have collected.


7.  DON’T place x-ray waste in the trash.

Some x-ray waste is also RCRA-hazardous waste and must be disposed of as such. Much of this waste stream is also recyclable, so protect the environment and help preserve precious resources by looking for alternative options. Check with your medical waste handling vendor and local regulatory waste authorities for guidance.


8.  DON’T leave waste containers open.

DON’T leave medical waste containers open. Keep them closed when you’re not disposing of something.


9. DON’T leave full waste containers unsealed.

Full waste containers can topple and spill their potentially infectious content. Seal the top of full corrugated boxes with tape.


10.  DON’T allow the red bag to protrude.

The red bag should not be visible after the container has been sealed. This is considered an improperly closed package and is a DOT violation. Ensure the red bag is fully inside the container, so it will not pose a risk during transport and disposal.


11.  DON’T forget to label your containers.

All containers must be tracked to comply with transport and disposal requirements. Label medical waste containers with proper federal (and sometimes state or local) requirements.


12.  DON’T allow containers to become wet.

Leaky containers cannot be accepted on trucks. Don’t pour liquids in your medical waste containers. Keep containers dry on the inside and out.


13.  DON’T move your medical waste.

If your facility moves to a new location, don’t take your medical waste with you. Ensure that a properly permitted medical waste handling company receives your sharps and biohazardous waste for transport before you move.


14.  DON’T hire a medical waste handling company that is not properly permitted.

You are responsible for the disposal of your wastes. Some companies may not be fully compliant with federal and or state/local regulations, and you can be fined for their mistakes, putting your business and reputation at risk. Use a fully licensed and insured medical waste handling company.


15.  DON’T ignore required training.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires documented annual bloodborne pathogens training for anyone who may be at risk of exposure to disease-causing germs that are potentially present in medical waste. It’s also extremely important to train all employees who on proper medical waste handling and disposal. 


16.  DON’T ignore provided compliance tools.

A valued partner will provide you with online (and in-person) training options. Ask your medical waste handling vendor what tools they provide to help you stay in compliance.


17.  DON’T think that fines can’t affect you.

OSHA fines can amount to tens of thousands of dollars. Follow best practices, be aware of all relevant regulations, and remain compliant with all federal, state, and local requirements.


All medical offices must dispose of medical waste in a safe manner. When you need professional medical waste handling, call 866-331-7731 or click here for free quote! Let us pick up your medical waste affordably, conveniently, and responsibly. 


Maine Medical Waste Disposal
Toll Free: 866-331-7731
Maine Local: 207-839-9111


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