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Are There Different Types of Medical Waste?

Medical wastes are categorized into many types depending on the disposal methods and materials used. In the United Kingdom, medical wastes are classified into two broad classes: non-hazardous and hazardous wastes.

However, in the United States and the rest of the world, medical wastes are classified into four types: radioactive, hazardous, infectious, and general wastes. It is important to note that many of these wastes may have different names that can be used interchangeably in different countries.

What are Medical Wastes?
Medical wastes are by-products of healthcare works that are generated in hospitals, laboratories, surgeries, and other medical settings. They include all materials that can come into contact with the human body during research, diagnosis, treatment, or drug administration.
Categorization of Medical Waste

USA Categorization

In the US, medical wastes are categorized into the following types:

•    General waste - consists of office and house wastes.
•    Hazardous waste – consists of wastes that are not infectious but dangerous.
•    Infectious waste- consists of any waste that is likely to cause infection in human beings.
•    Radioactive wastes – include all wastes that are generated from radioactive treatment processes.

UK Categorization

In the UK, the categorization of wastes is as follows:

•    Infectious wastes – consist of wastes from the treatment of people with infectious bodily fluids.
•    Cytotoxic wastes – wastes from medicine and drugs that are cytotoxic
•    Medicinal wastes – wastes from medicine, creams, and pills that are not cytotoxic.
•    Anatomical wastes – wastes from humans or animals
•    Offensive wastes – all non-infectious wastes.
•    Domestic/municipal – all non-clinical wastes

Final Thought
Medical wastes may be classified into many types depending on the material components as well as disposal methods. Classification varies with the country.