Having the power to change people’s lives is no small thing. When you work in the medical industry, you have that power every day. The people in your community depend on you and your peers to help them when their bodies have trouble. Though the human body is an incredible thing, it can have issues at any age, and without medical practitioners, life would be much harder for many people. The thing is, medical work is usually extremely busy and that makes it challenging to keep your head on straight, especially when it comes to disposing of dangerous waste.

The medical industry produces some of the most dangerous byproducts in the world, and it produces them in high volumes. Something as simple as a bloody bandage can cause the spread of dangerous disease, and that’s not even considering the byproducts of chemotherapy, pharmaceuticals, and other chemical departments of medicine. While the medical industry saves thousands of lives, it can also put thousands more in danger. That is why Medical Waste Disposal is here. We understand how high the stakes are, and we believe that it truly is possible to manage medical waste in a healthy way that protects patients, employees, communities, and the environment.

Medical Waste Disposal is the team that New Mexico medical, dental, and veterinary practices trust with their biohazard waste. We also serve blood banks, laboratories, and funeral homes. Hazardous waste is generated by more places than people think, and we are here to serve them all.

What Hazards Does Biohazardous Waste Present?

Many people think of needles when medical waste is brought up, but medical waste runs a much wider gamut than just needles. Medical waste becomes hazardous when it can cause disease or injury, and it can do so because of several reasons:

  • It is genotoxic

    • Genotoxic waste can alter the state of your genes, either with radiation or chemicals. This type of waste can lead to cancer if it isn’t disposed of properly.
  • It has infectious agents

    • This medical waste is the most basic type. It includes discarded blood, dressings, used gloves, microbiological cultures, and identifiable body parts.
  • It is radioactive

    • These are generally chemicals used for treating thyroid cancer, bone cancer, lymphoma, and beyond.
  • It contains hazardous or toxic chemicals or pharmaceuticals

    • These medical wastes can have a deep impact on the environment. They are particularly dangerous when put into the ground, where they can leak into the water supply.
  • It is sharp

    • Sharps are not only contaminated by chemicals or infectious agents, they can break the skin on contact. They are very dangerous and must be disposed of correctly.

Who is at Risk?

It’s important to understand who can suffer the impacts of waste that hasn’t been disposed of properly. The impact of medical waste can go wider than a lot of people expect. The following people face danger from medical waste:

  • Patients (can receive care at a facility or in-home)
  • Doctors, nurses, maintenance personnel, health-care auxiliaries
  • People visiting healthcare facilities
  • Waste disposal facility workers

Genotoxic Waste Hazards

The danger of genotoxic waste depends on how strong its toxicity is and how long a person is exposed to it. People can be exposed to genotoxic waste before, during, and after chemotherapy treatment. Generally, exposure happens via inhalation, absorption via the skin, or ingestion of contaminated food. Contamination happens more rarely via contact with secretions and bodily fluids of chemotherapy patients.

Genotoxic drugs target the body on a cellular level, As a result, they cause significant irritation and can even damage the eyes and skin. They can also cause nausea, dizziness, dermatitis, and headache. If they aren’t handled correctly, they can have a disastrous impact on the environment.

Infectious Waste and Sharps Hazards

We’re combining infectious waste and sharps because the two usually go hand-in-hand. When we say “infectious waste,” we’re talking about pathogenic micro-organisms. There is a huge variety of them, and contaminated waste can get into the body via several different paths:

  1. Via ingestion
  2. Via inhalation
  3. Through mucous membranes
  4. Through punctures, cuts, and abrasions on the skin

There are certain types of contaminants that present particularly large concerns, including the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and hepatitis B and C. There is a lot of evidence showing that these dangerous contaminants have been spread by medical waste, usually by medical syringes that have already been used.

That leads us to sharps. Sharps are particularly dangerous because they easily injure and facilitate disease transmission, especially viral blood infections. Hypodermic needles are especially threatening and must be disposed of effectively.

 Chemical and Pharmaceutical Waste Hazards

Generally, these materials aren’t found in large quantities in healthcare waste. The biggest risk is when outdated or unwanted pharmaceuticals or chemicals are disposed of in bulk. When that happens, they end up stored in bags or drums. When they leak, they can get into the ground and ruin groundwater, making it undrinkable. They can also get into water treatment plants and ruin the biological processes required to renew the water. They can also cause dangerous vapors or fire danger if they aren’t burned properly. Both chemicals and pharmaceuticals can have these dangerous impacts. Chemical and pharmaceutical waste can cause burns and intoxication because they are generally highly corrosive. Burns are most common.

Radioactive Waste Hazards

Depending on the type and intensity of exposure, different diseases can result. Radioactive waste is genotoxic, so it can have an impact on victims’ genes. Symptoms of exposure to radioactive waste range from dizziness, headaches, and vomiting to far more severe injuries like tissue destruction that requires amputation.

How Can You Protect Your Patients and Employees from Biohazardous Waste?

At Medical Waste Disposal, we work with dozens of New Mexico medical facilities to ensure their hazardous waste is managed properly. We provide training as well as management and transportation. However, what happens inside your facility on a day-to-day basis is up to you and your team. We want to take some time to share some of the basics of keeping your facility on-track, whether you run a blood bank or an urgent care facility.

Train Your Employees

It doesn’t matter how great your plans for handling hazardous waste are if your team doesn’t have the knowledge and dedication to implement them. Unfortunately, failing to implement the plans doesn’t just put patients at risk; it puts your employees at risk, too. The good news is, there are general requirements that can ensure your team stays on track. They were created by OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 1992, and they define how to manage biomedical waste. There are also important regulations around hazard communication and information sharing. Ensuring that your team knows the rules and understands how important they are will help you avoid common violations.

Manage Your Containers Correctly

Even if your staff is fully trained, if your containers aren’t managed correctly, it will be very difficult for your staff to do their job. Here are a few common mistakes to keep your eye out for:

  • Misunderstanding segregation

    • Medical waste containers are made specifically to protect everyone from whatever is inside them. They are also designed to make it easy for disposal teams like ours to know what goes where. The first step is to segregate regular waste from medical waste. Once you have that settled, make sure your hazardous waste goes into the matching containers. For instance, sharps must always go in the rigid containers designed for them, or they can cause significant damage.
  • Mislabeling containers

    • This is one of the easiest places to mess up, simply because requirements are so stringent and specific. Using the wrong colored bags or applying the wrong labels are all it takes. The best way to prevent these mistakes is to regularly monitor your containers and ensure things are being done right.
  • Failing to close containers

    • A container can’t protect you from everything inside it if it is open. And for some types of medical waste, an inch or two is all it takes. All biomedical waste containers are required by law to be closed at all times except when waste is removed or added. Damaged containers that have been even a little compromised should also be retired, as a crack or hole is just as bad as an open lid.
  • Create Emergency Plans

    • Being ready for the unexpected allows you to provide the best care to your patients. It also allows you to protect your employees. All healthcare facilities must have emergency plans for situations like accidental spills or the failure to contain biohazards. All plans have to be shared with the local authorities, but that should be your second priority. Your first priority is ensuring that your employees know exactly what to do. Update those plans every year and make sure you share any changes with your team. You also need to ensure that you actually have the materials needed to contain an emergency!

The Common Biohazard Situations We Prevent

At Medical Waste Disposal, we ensure that New Mexico facilities generating hazardous waste stay safe and healthy. We depend on the people at these facilities to work with us as a team to protect our communities and environment. There are several common improper waste disposal situations that we can work together to avoid.

Airborne Viruses

  • One of the ways we dispose of biomedical waste is burning. We have to be very careful to make sure that pathogens don’t get into the air. When we burn diseased tissues or other dangerous materials, we use checkpoints to constantly ensure that our processes protect the environment rather than threaten it.

Unsterilized Items

  • There are several types of medical waste that have to be sterilized before they are disposed of. If sterilization fails, infected items can hurt the environment as well as anyone who comes into contact with them. It can quickly become too late to salvage the situation.

Exposed Sharps

  • A majority of medical waste is sharps, items like needles and blades. They should never be loose in any kind of receptacle other than a sharps container. Otherwise, they can prick and nick anyone and spread infection. All sharps must go into sharps containers, and those containers must be good as new.

Special Notes on Pharmaceutical Waste

Pharmaceuticals can be overwhelming and difficult to handle. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) exists to provide a bunch of guidelines, and we are here to consolidate them down. Read on!

Fines should not be your only worry.

If you get in trouble for improperly disposing of pharmaceuticals, you won’t just accrue fines; you’ll also get bad publicity. This is often the more devastating result, as fixing a reputation is much harder than coming up with money.

Biohazardous waste and pharmaceuticals are not the same things.

Pharmaceuticals cannot be managed the same way as biohazardous waste. While biohazards can be sterilized and then put into a landfill, pharmaceuticals should never go in a landfill. If this happens, they will end up getting into the water. That is why we incinerate pharmaceuticals, breaking down their chemicals into safer forms.

Get the Medical Waste Disposal Service You Need

At Medical Waste Disposal, we are on a mission to partner with facilities all across New Mexico and empower them to provide clean, healthy environments for their patients. That is why we offer affordable, excellent services, including red bag removal, sharps removal, pharmaceutical management, chemotherapy material management, and pathological waste management. We understand that you have a lot on the line, including your patients, your employees, your business, and your reputation. We are here to partner with you to make life easier.

We not only provide world-class waste disposal, we do it for affordable prices. If you can’t save 30-40 percent on medical waste disposal service, we will give you a free $500 gift card. Why? Because we understand that you have a facility to run, budgets to balance, and people to help. We are passionate about doing our part for your mission. Turn to us in New Mexico for the best biohazard waste disposal!

Nobody is perfect, but the medical world is a place where there is little margin for error. As we’ve said before, there is no such thing as a small mistake, especially when it comes to waste. Many people get into the medical profession because they want to help people, and putting trash in the right receptacle can become secondary to keeping up with the hustle and bustle of running a practice. At Medical Waste Disposal, we work hard every day to ensure that the hard-working people in hospitals, doctor’s offices, dental practices, vet offices, and beyond all have convenient solutions to the waste generated by their facilities.

If you ever look at the volume of waste generated by your facility and feel like it’s a lot, you aren’t the only one. While patients receive treatment and leave without worrying about what will happen to the materials used to treat them, your facility has to make sure they are gathered correctly and passed off to the correct professionals for disposal. With all the facilities in our nation generating waste every day, it adds up pretty quickly. In today’s blog, we’re going to explore some recent statistics around medical and biohazardous waste.

Medical Waste: The Numbers

Medical waste is generated by private offices, nursing homes, veterinary offices, hospitals, dental offices, prisons, funeral homes, retail health clinics, urgent care clinics, hotels, medical research labs, and home health care services.

  • According to Green Growing, these are the most recent statistics for medical waste in the world.
  • About 16 billion injections are administered around the world every year. That is about two million used needles are generated every day. Though some of the use syringes make their way into proper waste receptacles, many of them do not.
  • Approximately 85 percent of all waste produced by health care facilities isn’t hazardous at all. While this is good news, it means that 15 percent of the waste is definitely hazardous, meaning it is infectious, toxic, or radioactive. That is about 5.5 million pounds of biohazardous waste a day, and it must be disposed of correctly.
  • The United States generates about 5.9 million tons of medical waste per year. The average staffed bed generates about a pound of medical waste in wealthy countries according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which means a lot of waste is generated outside of hospitals.

Medical Waste: The Danger

Because biomedical waste includes the remains fof16 billion injections per year, that means the most dangerous type of biomedical waste is also one of the most profuse. Needles (“sharps”) are considered some of the most dangerous types of medical waste because they aren’t just contaminated; they’re able to break the skin and cause problems immediately. Beyond sharps, there’s dressings, swabs, body parts, body fluids, tissues, and equipment that can cause major health issues in communities.

Turn to Us

The team at Medical Waste Disposal is passionate about empowering New Mexico practices and other facilities that generate biohazardous waste to function safely. You have people and communities to serve. Let us take care of the rest. Contact us for biohazard waste disposal in New Mexico today!