All Points Medical Waste Blog
How Medical Waste Management Impacts Infection Control
Can Your Facility Reduce the Risk?
All healthcare organizations generate medical waste–but did you know that the flow of that waste through your facility can have a significant impact on infection control? When you think about the journey of regulated medical waste (RMW) throughout a hospital, physician’s office, surgery center, laboratory and other healthcare facilities, there are numerous times that waste is touched and handled before it reaches its final destination. Whether it’s taken to a hospital loading dock or a dumpster for pick up–each touch in the process increases risks to safety and infection control.
Risk Increases with Every Touchpoint
From the moment waste is generated, oftentimes inside patient rooms, the journey of medical waste should be scrutinized to understand the risk of spreading infection. After waste is placed inside a bin inside a patient room, a staff member responsible for disposal removes and consolidates waste into another bin. In many cases, the original collection bin stays in the patient room and the red bag filled with waste is removed and replaced–but the bin has been exposed to numerous types of waste that can contain a variety of pathogens, bacteria, infectious waste and more. If the bin remains in the room– the risk of spreading infection is increased.
Waste Moving Throughout the Facility
In the example of the waste being removed from a patient room, that same staff member now moves throughout the facility with the collection bin, going from room to room transferring waste from one bin to another. At this point, every healthcare facility should be looking at the protocols around this process- are staff members performing this task wearing gloves? Are they taking the same gloves off and on and what doors, elevators buttons etc. are they touching as they move the waste through the facility?
Consolidation of Waste
As the waste continues its journey through the hospital, surgery center, laboratory or similar facility, it is usually brought to a utility room where it is consolidated from one container to stationary containers. Considerations for safety must be taken seriously at this point (as well as all other touchpoints) as red bags filled with waste are being handled by staff members. Are staff members trained on and following standards that can prevent cross-contamination? Are they aware of the risks associated with spills–including how to prevent them and what to do in the event of exposure?
Safe Transport of Waste for Final Disposal
Once the waste has made its way through the facility and is ready to reach its final destination, it’s crucial to understand that infection control must still be considered. Whether it’s moved to the loading dock or left inside a dumpster for pick up, implementing best practices for reducing risks of infection is critical. Ask yourself this question: is the contaminated bin that was used to transport the waste throughout the facility going right back inside without being cleaned and sanitized? Receiving clean bins from your medical waste disposal provider might be the better option to ensure you are doing all that’s necessary to avoid cross-contamination and reduce the risk of exposure.
All healthcare facilities must consider and understand the multiple touchpoints of medical waste to do their part in infection control. Infections and the spread of disease can be significantly reduced if best practices are implemented and all staff who are involved in the management of medical waste follow these protocols.
All Points Medical Waste is a full service medical waste disposal company located in Stuart, Florida. We serve South Florida healthcare facilities and can assist you in reducing the spread of infection by providing regular waste pick up, approved collection bins and training for your staff. Give us a call today or complete the form on this page to learn more.