Defining Hospital Waste Management
Hospital waste management, also known as medical waste management, is a system that handles hospital-generated waste, including infectious, chemical, expired pharmaceutical and radioactive items, and sharps. Efficient waste management is critical for hospitals because medical waste can be pathogenic and environmentally hazardous. Non-compliance can cause negative ramifications like serious health risks, fines, and damage to a healthcare institution’s reputation.
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Best Practices for Hospital Waste Management
Medical waste is hazardous, toxic, and even lethal. If not properly disposed of or treated, they pose grave risks for humans and the environment, like disease transmission and environmental poisoning and pollution. To achieve safe and sustainable management of medical waste, consider the top 3 best practices below:
- Keep abreast of state regulations
Each country or state has different regulations when it comes to medical waste. Research on these regulations and relevant updates to help keep your medical facility compliant. Doing so will help keep you and your organization aware of trainings, courses, and other resources to assist you in implementing proper waste management.
- Color-code containers and waste bins
Hospital waste can be broadly categorized into different types, and each type requires a different disposal method. Segregating these different types of medical waste ensures that each type is discarded, transported, and destroyed properly and accordingly. Color coding helps prevent larger health issues arising from mislabeled medical waste.
The table below shows an example of the color-coding scheme for medical waste from the UK’s Department of Health:
Monitor and look for opportunities for improvement
- Red - anatomical (e.g. blood, organs)
- Orange - clinical/infectious
- Yellow - clinical/highly infectious
- Blue - medicines (e.g. unused drugs)
- Purple - cytotoxic and/or cytostatic products (e.g. chemotherapy medicines)
- Black - municipal waste - ie. not clinical or medical waste
- White - dental
Measure the success of your waste management system with a monitoring tool that easily integrates into your workflow. Conduct regular inspections of your waste management process from segregation and collection to storage, transportation, and disposal. An example of a monitoring tool you could use are digital checklists. These are easy to build and allow the people using them to get more things done in a shorter period. Digital checklists also help ensure that people get their daily, weekly, and monthly tasks done on time.
These are just some of the practices you can do to ensure proper medical waste management in your healthcare facility. According to the World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology International Journal of Health and Medical Engineering, enforcing proper medical waste management benefits your healthcare facility in the following ways:
- • It minimizes the spread of infections and reduces the risk of accidental injury to staff, patients, visitors, and the community.
- • It reduces the likelihood of contamination of the soil or ground water with chemicals or micro-organisms.
- • It attracts fewer insects and rodents and does not attract animals.
- • It helps provide an aesthetically pleasing atmosphere.
iAuditor as a Medical Waste Management App
Digitize forms and checklists with iAuditor, a mobile app that allows you to perform real-time inspections and automatically generate reports each time you complete an audit. Monitor your waste management processes digitally to ensure that waste management programs are being implemented by your healthcare personnel. Gain visibility on performance and frequency of your waste management audits to see areas to improve before major issues arise.
To help you get started, we have built 2 digital checklists that you can customize and use for your hospital waste management below.