Written by Megan Chamberlain
23 Jul 2020

Importance of Hospital Waste Management

Each person working in a hospital setting can be impacted by healthcare waste management – and each person should be provided with training and education on how healthcare waste handling and disposal processes directly impacts infection control. COVID-19 has cost everyone many things, but it has also given us something: a harsh reminder that amplified infection control and IPs (Infection Preventionists) are in great need for our future.

 

In this blog we will be covering the following. Click to jump to a certain topic:

 

Clinical waste management is not a one-size fits all solution

Different types of healthcare wastes are generated by every department in a hospital, from the janitorial and housekeeping staff to surgical suites, infectious disease units, and so forth. The same thing can be said about Skilled Nursing communities – each facility has unique needs that vary due to the amount of beds, the procedures performed, and the specialties of healthcare. There are many factors. Daniels Health takes the time to observe your current processes and complete waste audits before proposing any changes. We meet you where you are and build an improvement plan from there.

 

We begin with an “Inside the Four Walls” approach

We work directly with clinical staff to drive better healthcare waste management. Through training, container placement and process improvement within the four walls, we influence safety, alter segregation behaviors, enhance efficiencies and drive substantial cost benefits for our customers.

The tenets and focuses of our “Inside the Four Walls” approach that we have seen make noticeable impact at both acute and non-acute facilities across the US are:

  • Safety Infection and Risk Minimization
  • Waste Optimization
  • Compliance and Education
  • Position and Movement
  • Storage Optimization

To learn more about our "Inside the Four Walls" approach, click here.  

 

Simplified Healthcare Waste Management

When it comes to the importance of hospital waste management there are a few things that should be initiated like healthcare waste segregation, an understanding of different healthcare waste stream sources, and regular healthcare waste audit procedures.  

We know that education is the key to awareness and proper healthcare waste segregation and disposal processes inside healthcare facilities. We want to work with you and your staff to ensure everyone feels confident in compliantly disposing of healthcare waste. We are your partner not just another "bag and a box" medical waste disposal company.

We make healthcare waste segregation easy by implementing our bold, reusable containment systems. Color-coded and optimally placed to help you quickly, and safely dispose of healthcare waste. You can see our rainbow of solutions to the right – pretty neat, eh?

Implementing our reusable solutions goes beyond education and enforcement of healthcare waste segregation – by choosing Daniels you are reducing the volume of single-use plastic medical waste containers going to landfills. You are choosing to move your hospital or healthcare facility in a more sustainable direction.

 

Benefits of hospital waste management

At its foundation, hospital waste management increases safety of employees and patients by reducing the potential to sustain a sharps injury potential, along with the costs of direct and indirect treatment as a result. It also reduces the risk of exposure to blood-borne pathogens and reduces hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). 

With COVID-19 we are all, clinicians and non, hyper-aware of how much we are touching any and all surfaces. A modern hospital waste management plan includes solutions that minimize touch. Daniels Health reusable containment systems are either wall-mounted, or on a mobile cart for point-of-use disposal. Our systems should only be touched twice: once placing an empty container in its designated location and secondly when the container is full - permanently locking it to place in a soiled utility room or loading area.

Not only do we specialize in containers that reduce touch – they are Safety Engineered Devices. Our Sharpsmart alone is peer-reviewed to prevent the risk of container-associated sharps injuries by over 80%!

 

Read Full Study

 

Healthcare personnel in the US experience over 300,000 needlestick and/or other sharps-related injuries every year. Today the focus is not only on minimizing environmental waste, but increasing healthcare worker safety.

We know change can be scary and vigilant healthcare waste segregation can feel time-consuming. Nevertheless, enhanced education and improved reporting procedures not only increases efficiency but ensures compliance to federal and state guidelines.

Among the most important issues when it comes to hospital waste management is proper training in waste segregation; equally important is the management of hazardous waste on-site. Are your employees confident in the difference between the variety of healthcare waste streams you generate? We’re talking:

 

 

 

Are they confident in the correct disposal of medicinal and non medicinal sharps? Have they used point-of-use disposal systems before? Daniels Health emphasizes the ‘less touches equals less risk’ approach. Do your hospital employees know how sharps waste is defined? Sharps don’t just reference needles (ISO standard 23907:2012), but include:

  • Empty ampoules
  • Razor blades
  • Scalpels
  • Suture needles
  • Butterflies
  • Culture slides and dishes

 

It is up to you to ensure that your Cradle to Grave responsibilities are upheld. As the waste generator, you are legally responsible to properly segregate and dispose of healthcare waste with a management partner of your choice. Daniels Health has proudly supported US healthcare with reliable service for over 30 years – giving many peace of mind that their waste been properly treated.

Shall we talk money? Improper waste segregation costs hospitals tens of thousands of dollars a year – because some throw away a bulk of their waste into their biohazardous waste stream – even if it’s not biohazard waste. One New York City hospital started an aggressive medical waste reduction program and shaved nearly one million dollars annually off their waste disposal costs!

 

Know the healthcare waste streams

Hospitals, surgery centers, dentists – whatever your size – your facility must be able to follow the trail proper waste segregation to ensure all the streams you generate are treated correctly. This is one of the many reasons why choosing a healthcare partner you can trust is so important – they need to understand your waste at a deep level.

It’s essential for hospitals to have policies and procedures in place that regulate the handling and implementation of healthcare waste and the volume and type of waste generated. Just because something is “disposable” doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have to be handled properly in regard to segregation.

If you are unsure where you can improve your facility’s waste management plan – begin with a waste audit! This can be done in-house by your team or in partnership with your healthcare waste services partner.

Waste audits are an integral part of healthcare waste management and aid hospitals in determining the difference between clinical waste and non-clinical waste, as well as the proper segregation of waste streams.

Every hospital should have a plan in place to deal with their medical waste. For example, hospitals around the country have implemented best-practices approaches to deal with medical waste. Some of the topics covered include:

 

 

Every department within the hospital - from administration to janitorial - are given specific guidelines and instructions. Washington State created their best-practices guide for medical waste years ago. For example, the anesthesia department is instructed to handle spent charcoal filters as dangerous waste. The clinical research department was mandated to manage their chemicals and waste properly through the use of closed, clearly labeled, and dated containers stored in secured areas. They took it farther and required that secondary containment before proper disposal was needed in certain scenarios. The housekeeping department was provided very specific guidelines on the segregation and storage of solid, biomedical, and dangerous waste as well as recyclables.

 

Proper waste segregation and disposal is the responsibility of the generator

Have you heard this before? It’s because we feel it’s important to say again: the responsibility of adhering to federal and state guidelines for healthcare waste management and disposal belongs to the waste generator. Penalties and fines can be incurred even after medical waste leaves your hospital. Until its final disposition, it’s your responsibility.

With over 30 years of experience, we have the expertise to maintain your compliants and be a long-term partner. Our sustainable and efficient healthcare waste management solutions put safety of employees and the environment first. Our Safety Engineered Devices are proven to reduce sharps injuries, lower your carbon footprint, and increase efficiency with dispsoal.

The ever evolving needs of Hospital healthcare waste management can be daunting. but as your partner - we can tackle it together, and well! To speak to one of our team members about how Daniels can help your hospital, click here.

 

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Megan Chamberlain

Megan Chamberlain

Content and Digital Solutions Specialist

With a little bit of knowledge about a lot of things and a quick wit, Megan was the recipient of the Daniels Pun-Master Award 2017 and is the go-to for fun analogies to explain healthcare waste.