Waste disposal is a highly regulated area, especially when it comes to medical and other potentially hazardous types of waste. Medical waste could pose a hazard to the public health unless properly disposed of and it should never be put with ‘normal’ refuge or rubbish. It could actually be a criminal offence to do so.
Any business that requires medical waste disposal should take steps to ensure that all clinical and other hazardous wastes are dealt with properly. This involves storage, collection, handling and disposal.
Clinical waste consists of a number of different categories, including:
- Sharps, such as used syringes, needles, scalpels and other blades
- Human or animal tissue, including blood and other bodily fluids
- Unused medicines and pharmaceuticals. These may be out of date, damaged and otherwise unwanted stock.
- Used dressings, bandages and swabs. Disposable items such as plaster casts and used gowns may also be classed as medical waste.
Some clinical or medical waste may be created within the home. According to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), any waste produced as a result of patients being treated in their home by a community nurse or a member of the NHS profession is considered to be that healthcare professional’s waste.
If patients treat themselves in their own home, waste only needs to be treated as hazardous clinical waste where a particular risk has been identified. This includes all hypodermic needles and may include various other items depending on medical diagnoses. Local authorities are obliged to collect the waste when requested to do so, but may make a charge to cover the cost of collection.
Businesses that benefit from a medical waste disposal service
Businesses producing clinical or medical waste are obliged to make their own arrangements for safe and appropriate disposal. Many of these businesses are directly involved in the healthcare professions.
GP surgeries, health centres, clinics and hospitals and dentists are some obvious examples and all these will usually generate a wide variety of medical waste items. Veterinary practices and animal hospitals can also produce medical waste, as that created in the treatment of animals can be just as potentially hazardous to the public health as those pertaining to human patients.
Pharmacies will usually have unused medicines and pharmaceuticals to dispose of and may produce other types of clinical waste. Other businesses that may create clinical, medical and other hazardous wastes may include nursing and residential homes, tattooists and piercing parlours.
Takeaway: How to choose the right medical waste disposal service
Regardless of your health business niche, you need to be sure that you partner with the right medical waste disposal. Here are three things a medical waste disposal company should have/offer you:
- Flexibility in pickup schedules: You don’t want your medical wastes pile up, as they can be dangerous to the environment. You need to partner with a company that allows you to request for pickup out of the normal schedules.
- Quick response time: A local rep should respond to your request in timely manner.
- Legitimate permit: This is a must – without a proper permit, you can be sure that your medical wastes are not well-managed; this, indirectly, will impact your business’ reputation, for being in a partnership with untrusted companies.