Dealing with Medical Waste
Medical waste is a huge problem in the United States. Every day, United States hospitals must deal with approximately 33 pounds of medical waste from every staffed bed. There are about 931,000 staffed hospital beds in the United States. Simple math says that about 30,723,000 pounds of medical waste is generated by hospitals daily.
Other facilities, like veterinarian offices, doctor’s offices, urgent care centers, and medical missions, must also deal with medical waste. It can be called various terms depending on who is talking and where in the country you are. Common names for medical waste include biomedical waste, clinical waste, biohazardous waste, regulated medical waste, infectious medical waste, and healthcare waste. Regardless of its name, only about 15 percent of it is dangerous, but that percentage can cause injury to healthcare workers, patients, and others if not handled correctly.
What are the Different Types of Medical Waste?
There are generally four categories of medical waste. General medical waste is things like cups, plates and office products, and they are not considered dangerous and can be disposed of like other commercial waste in your community. Infectious medical waste can pose a risk of infection to humans or animals, and each state highly regulates the disposal of this waste. Hazardous medical waste poses a danger to the public, but this type of waste is unlikely to cause infections. Finally, radioactive medical waste contains radioactive material, and it is generally the waste produced in nuclear medicine.
How can Medical Waste be Dealt With?
Medical waste can be dealt with in many ways. Before 1990, most medical trash was dealt with by incinerating it, and this is still the common practice for pathological waste, like body parts and recognizable tissue. Steam sterilization, called autoclaving, is commonly used to remove the risk of infection from biohazardous waste. Then, the waste can be hauled to the landfill or incinerated. High-powered microwaves can also be used to remove the chance of infection before the waste is burned or hauled to landfills. Reactive cleaners can be applied to some medical waste, and the waste can be disposed of at the landfill.
Are There Alternative Medical Waste Treatments?
Yes, Steri-Green is proud to offer an alternative medical waste treatment option. A machine about the size of an office photocopier can render all medical waste completely harmless allowing it to be disposed of in the regular trash. The process is very simple. Workers put the medical waste in the machine. Then, they follow a series of simple interactive steps to add a special chemical to the waste. Within about 15 minutes, the waste can be taken out of the machine. At this point, it resembles small pellets. Then, the waste can be thrown in the dumpster.