Best Practices for Preventing the Spread of Viruses and Infections
In the healthcare industry, medical waste management is an necessity that can sometimes be given less attention than it requires, and poorly-handled medical waste leaving the potential for the spread of viruses and infections. The result would not only leave your patients and staff at risk of infection, but also disastrous to your surrounding community and open your organization up to lawsuits and government fines.
Who Is at Risk?
- Patients – We’ve all seen news stories about disposable sharps being reused instead of being disposed of after one use. The reuse of any type of single-use sharps can spread infection between patients or between practitioner and patient.
- Practitioners – The failure to use puncture-resistant containers to dispose of needles and sharps is all too common, and it carries a high risk of infecting a practitioner which ultimately transfers to other practitioners or patients. The simple act of recapping needles should be practiced as well. Once an infection or virus has been passed on, anyone that the infected person comes into contact with is potentially at risk, including family, friends, and community members. When medical waste is improperly handled, even the waste procurement staff face the risk of infection.
- Waste Procurement Staff – Those who collect medical waste are at very high risk since they are continuously coming into contact with pathogens, especially when waste is not handled properly.
- Public – After medical waste leaves a healthcare facility, it can pose a risk of infection to the public if not properly handled. It’s important that waste is handled by a reputable medical waste management service and processed in a facility that practices proper and safe disposal.
Key Practices to Minimize Infection
- Train Staff – Practitioners inadvertently causing harm while attempting to heal patients is counterproductive and irresponsible. All practitioners and individuals handling medical waste of any kind, whether in a medical facility, dental office, tattoo parlor, veterinary office, funeral home or elsewhere, must be educated about how to properly dispose of medical waste.
- Set Policies – Assuming everyone is aware of—and compliant with—stringent and complex medical waste handling rules without a written policy and ongoing training is a major mistake. Policies and protocols for how waste is handled should be a top priority for any medical waste generator. Assign supervisors that will ensure policies are implemented, updated, and consistently followed.
- Segregate Waste – Sharps, non-contaminated waste, and contaminated waste should be kept separate in clearly-marked containers from the time of use until they are disposed of.
- Use one-time-use and multi-use items properly – One-time-use items, including surgical gloves, certain sharps, and other items, must be properly disposed of immediately after use. Multi-use items must be sterilized after use.
An Affordable Solution
Medical waste disposal is an expensive part of operating in the medical field, and there is always a sense of need and pressure to find ways to keep this cost to a minimum. Unfortunately, cutting corners increases the potential for errors, which leads to health and safety risks.
GreenServ has been a leading provider of compliant medical waste removal and disposal in the Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee regions. We facilitate the entire process, from disposal, to processing, to recycling. This full-service approach not only saves money, but also minimizes the risk of and infections from medical waste. To find out how we can help you practice safe medical waste management, including consulting and training, give us a call at 662-533-0940 or complete the form on this page.