Written by Megan Chamberlain
05 Dec 2019

Guide to Indiana Medical Waste Regulations

Any business or facility that produces medical waste, and most especially infectious waste, must pay special attention to state medical waste regulations. In addition, states are also supposed to follow federal regulations found under the umbrella of several government agencies. Did you know that state laws are often more detailed, complex, and stringent, than those provided by the federal government?

If you work in a healthcare facility or any business that produces medical waste, especially if it contains what is defined under state codes as biohazard waste, infectious waste, or any other type of waste that potentially poses a danger to humans, know the laws. Such knowledge can save you tens of thousands of dollars in not only savings, but fines and penalties.

Indiana’s medical waste regulations, like other states, can be found under state codes known as administrative codes. Example: Indiana Administrative Code (IAC). Such codes are found on state government websites and provide specific regulations and laws for different types of medical waste: how to label it, how to store it, and how to transport it, are found in the Indiana Administration Codes.

It’s in your best interest to know and understand these laws. Fines for non-compliance can exceed $70,000.00 for every violation, and accrue every day that violation remains uncorrected or unresolved.

 

Governing laws and regulations of Indiana

Daniels Health is more than aware that it can take time quite a bit of patience to wade through dozens if not hundreds of pages of regulations. Finding specific topics can be frustrating. We’ll give you a starting point. One of the most important aspects of medical regulations to review, for any state, is their definitions.

Not all states have the same definitions for hazardous medical waste or non-hazardous medical waste. Wording is very important. As they say, the devil is in the details.

Also be aware that there may be more than one source for this information. In Indiana, you have the Indiana Code (IC) and the Indiana Administrative Code (IAC) to dig into for resources and information.

However, even straightforward code numbers can often be ambiguous and vague, at least in regard to finding the specific definition or information you’re looking for. Some codes refer to other codes. For example, take a gander at this information for “hazardous waste”:

Definitions: (IC) 16-41-16-4; (IAC) 329 11-2-18 and (IAC) 410 1-3-10. “Hazardous waste” is defined as waste that’s regulated under IAC 329 3.1 (Solid Waste Management Division).

That bit of non-information is followed by dates of when the code was last updated, reviewed, amended, or readopted.

Huh? So what is the definition?

It’s understandable that at that point, you give up, but we urge you not to. Naturally, you follow the codes provided and you end up at 329 IAC 3.1, which provides much more detailed information (albeit 140 pages long) regarding Article 3.1 – Hazardous Waste Management Permit Program and related Hazardous Waste Management topics.

Unfortunately, who’s got the time or the inclination to struggle through hundreds of pages of regulations? Why can’t state governments be more specific and provide one source for all the information you’re looking for?

Following are just a few sections of Indiana’s medical waste governing laws and regulations for specific topics that should be on top of you ‘I know this’ list:

  • Infectious waste: IC 16-41-16-4, 329 IAC 11-2-18, and 410 IAC 1-3-10
  • Infectious waste storage: 410 IAC 1-3-17
  • Transport of infectious waste: 410 IAC 1-3-27(a)

When it comes to infectious waste, focus on Rule 3, provided in a document by the Indiana State Department of Health. This covers a number of topics regarding infectious waste and where you can find the authority for those guidelines as well as the types of facilities affected.

For example, under section 410 IAC 1-3-4, you’ll find the definition of a “contaminated sharp”. You’ll be directed to the authority that regulates those guidelines and who is affected by them:

  • Authority: IC 16-19-3-4; IC 16-41-16-8
  • Affected: IC-16-41-16

Furthermore, this section defines that a “contaminated sharp” means an object that is capable of cutting or penetrating the skin and has been in contact with blood or body fluids. The term includes the following:

Hypodermic or suture needle.

  • Syringe
  • Scalpel blade
  • Pipette
  • Lancet
  • Broken glass

 

Who’s affected by this specific law? Actually, 16 types of facilities are found under this rule including hospitals, veterinary offices and hospitals, mortuaries, academic and industrial research laboratories, blood centers, diagnostic laboratories, ambulatory surgical facilities, and diet or healthcare clinics. There is a note that under certain exceptions, these rulings are not applicable to hospice services delivered in the home of a hospice patient or home healthcare agencies.

See? It pays to know the details and to keep reading.

Federal and state agencies are involved in the proper processes for determining waste stream and waste segregation and overall healthcare waste management. In Indiana, regulations of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are followed, as are the regulations of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) Office of Land Quality, and the Indiana Department of Health (IDH).

Are guidelines for infectious waste in Indiana as a state different than those of the federal government? They can be, depending on how many other state agencies are involved in drafting regulations.

In the state of Indiana, infectious medical waste is regulated by the State Departments of Health (DOH) Infectious Waste Regulations and their Department of Environmental Management Solid Waste Regulations.

 

Take the cradle-to-grave approach to avoid noncompliance issues

Daniels Health is familiar with federal and state regulations when it comes to healthcare waste management. We understand the difference between anatomical waste and clinical waste and how to properly (and compliantly) dispose of each. We know the steps you need to take for compliant and safe healthcare waste segregation, pharmaceutical waste disposal, and waste audit procedures.

Even so, we encourage at least basic knowledge and time reviewing guidelines and regulations. We urge all healthcare facilities to adopt the cradle-to-grave approach when it comes to healthcare waste management. That means that any facility or business that generates medical waste accept responsibility for it: from its origination to its final disposition or destruction. That means – take notice – you, the administrator, the president, the CEO, the manager, is even responsible for what happens to that healthcare waste, especially if it is biohazard waste, after it leaves your facility.

But wait, you have a medical waste disposal company picking that stuff up, don’t you? Yes, hopefully you do. Nevertheless, you are still responsible for where that waste ends up. If the medical waste removal company that you choose doesn’t properly dispose of the waste, you will be held responsible. It’s the law. That means you get dinged for it, and you must also be responsible for the penalties, fines, and damage to your reputation that goes along with non-compliance issues.

 

Conclusion

Don’t risk fines, penalties, or damage to your reputation for lack of compliance with Indiana’s medical waste regulations. Know the rules. It’s not just a matter of ethics, it’s the law. Contact Daniels Health for your long-term healthcare waste management solutions. We’ll make sure you remain compliant, along with cost-effective and sustainable measures in place that will save you money in the long run. Most importantly, you’ll maintain compliance that protects your employees, public health, and the environment.

For more information on how Daniels Health can help your facility stay on top of ever-changing guidelines and regulations, contact us today.  Alternatively find out more about our Indiana operations and service capabilities on our Indiana service page 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 girl for all things compliance.