The healthcare sector reduces health issues and potential risks to a person’s life but also generates medical waste that can inadvertently threaten public health. According to recent studies by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the waste generated by medical procedures is most intoxicating than any other type of waste.
Any solid or liquid waste, including its containers and intermediates, generated in the diagnosis, treatment, and immunization of animals or humans refers to as bio-medical waste. Infectivity and other toxicity of biomedical wastes are the two hazards they pose. Biomedical waste includes:
- Human anatomical waste, including tissues, organs, and body parts.
- Animal wastes generated in schools and hospitals during research
- Waste materials from the biotechnology and microbiology sector.
- Cytotoxic substances and expired medications.
Top 7 Ways to Reduce Medical Waste
According to Agenda 21, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), each waste producer is responsible for the treatment and final disposal of its waste. A viable, secure, cost-effective strategy must prioritize proper treatment, recycling, transportation, and disposal solutions.
The various types of biomedical waste are:
- Infectious waste — Contains pathogens like bacteria or fungi that can cause serious health problems.
- Pathological waste — Contains anatomical waste such as tissues, organs, and other body parts.
- Sharps — Consists of sharp objects like needles, blades, saws, etc.
- Pharmaceutical waste — Expired and contaminated products.
- Genotoxic waste — Hazardous waste such as vomit, urine, or feces from the patients.
- Chemical waste — Contains Intoxicating Solid, liquid, and gaseous chemical waste.
Mentioned below are the top seven ways that will help reduce medical waste.
1. Waste minimization
Waste minimization is a cost-effective approach that will benefit you the most because it will lower the cost of purchasing and disposing of certain goods. Several strategies can help minimize waste.
- Reducing sources: Measures should be taken to limit the purchase of hazardous products and opt for less-wasteful supplies.
- Recyclables: Recycling medical products, whether indigenously or elsewhere, is essential.
- Effective management and proper control: Theseare essential to managing products, especially chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
- Waste segregation: All waste products should be separated predicated on their intended uses.
2. Reuse and recycle
Medical objects that can be reused and withstand sterilization must be recycled or reused without fail. It includes scalpels, syringes, glass bottles, and other reusable items. It is essential to separate these items from non-reusable items before washing and sterilization.
Plastics, metals, paper, and glass should be recycled, resulting in lower disposal costs, through lower disposal costs or payments from recycling companies. Radionuclides are used for radiotherapy and can last a long term after sterilization. If the contamination is high, establishments need to follow special measures.
3. Correct waste collection
Clinical personnel must ensure that the trash collected is disposed of carefully. It should not be allowed to build up at the point of manufacture. The planning and scheduling of waste collection should rigorously adhere to the following:
- Waste should be collected daily and transported to the appropriate storage facilities with care.
- After removing the used bags or containers, replace fresh ones immediately.
- Do not remove a bag unless it says to do in the label.
Handle medical waste with extreme caution before disposal. Some methods for dealing with medical waste include:
- Incineration — A controlled flame-burning technique that decreases the weight and volume of solid waste.
- Autoclaving — The hot treatment of infectious and sharp objects.
- Screwfeed technology — The waste rotates through an augre and is shredded and heated into particles.
- Chemical disinfection — The process of removing infection and germs from medical equipment.
5. Following the colour rule
Segregation is the key to minimizing waste products. It is critical to identify the waste and precisely segregate it. Sorting waste into color-coded bags is the most effective way to categorize it. Categorization helps in the appropriate handling of waste. Below are some examples.
- Hazardous waste must go through autoclaving and dispose of in red bags.
- Collect less infectious waste in yellow bags or containers.
- Label the kind of waste on the bags.
As a reminder for proper disposal, post specific instructions at waste collection stations.
6. Waste Transportation
Place garbage bags in a container before transferring them to transport trucks. It can help reduce waste, but it can also raise costs. Establishments with limited resources should minimize off-site transportation or utilize closed trucks to avoid leakage.
It is necessary to use wheeled carts to transport waste within the hospital. The transportation organization should be registered with and well-known for its work. It is critical to sign up with a transportation firm that ensures the safe disposal of biomedical waste.
7. Land Disposal
If a medical authority lacks the resources to remediate waste before disposal, a landfill must be considered an appropriate disposal option. It is far worse to allow hazardous waste items to accumulate in hospitals, raising the danger of health problems. There should be an upgradation from open dumps to sanitary landfills. Establishments can alternately use a small burial pit to dispose of medical waste.
Every year, the National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom generates more than 100 million tonnes of biomedical waste. Medical waste disposal is critical for operating a compliant, safe healthcare institution. Local laws and regulations govern medical waste.
Due to the emerging advances in healthcare, it has become critical to prevent the mishandling of biomedical waste. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are responsible for safeguarding the environment and public health. Therefore, organizations must help ensure that the waste they generate does not harm human health or the environment. There is also an urgent need to raise public awareness to ensure the proper usage of these regulations.
It is within your ability to reduce waste and create cost-effective alternatives. Even minimal waste reduction steps can drastically change the environment and pace of public health risks. Following these recommendations is an excellent beginning step. Your next step should be to locate a reputable medical waste disposal service.