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Ways to Improve Medical Waste Disposal


Appropriate waste management can have a huge impact in improving medical waste disposal. Below are 5 recommendations for coming up with a better plan and strategy to improve healthcare waste management.

1.    Define the Problem
Before any steps are taken to improve medical waste disposal, it is important to first understand the problem. Basically, the healthcare waste can be divided into 4 categories namely: general solid waste, infectious waste, hazardous chemical waste and radioactive waste. By understanding the percentage that each category contributes to medical waste, it will be easier to establish a plan for proper waste management.

2.    Follow Segregation Protocols
Currently, most healthcare facilities use the waste management practice of collecting all medical wastes and disposing them altogether. However, they fail to acknowledge that not all hospital waste is potentially infectious and hazardous. Hence, it is important to impose segregation practices to separate chemical from biological hazardous wastes.

3.    Proper Sharps Disposal System

Sharps, including needles, syringes and lancets contribute to 10% or less of the waste stream. However, improper disposal of sharps can contribute to risk of disease transmission. Hospitals should therefore be encouraged to come up with a proper sharps management system.

4.    Institute Worker Safety

There is no denying that hospital workers are at a higher risk of being exposed to infectious and chemical hazardous waste. For this reason, proper training and education should be offered to workers to teach them about proper waste management and how to protect themselves.

5.    Be Consistent on Waste Reduction
It is not surprising to know that hospitals in the U.S. generate less medical waste compared to hospital in the lower and middle-income countries. This is because the healthcare facilities in the U.S. rely heavily on disposable materials and instruments. They also use a lot of packaging for their products.

Overtime, this has led to an increase in waste generation and no proper waste management system in place. Hence, the need for reduction in use of hazardous materials like products that contain mercury. When implemented in hospitals, this reduction policy can greatly contribute to managing the waste stream.

The simple answer to improving medical waste disposal is by implementing proper waste management systems. The above recommendations can help ensure proper planning and management when it comes to medical waste disposal.