Keeping Your Restaurant Immaculate

Medical Waste Services: What Constitutes Medical Waste And Who Disposes Of It?

by Jurjen Zandvliet

If you have ever wondered what constitutes medical waste and how it is disposed of, the explanation is a simple one. You could ask a doctor or nurse, and they could, and should, be able to tell you exactly what makes the defining list for medical waste. If you do not personally know a doctor or nurse and do not move in medical circles with any frequency, then the following will help define and explain it for you.

What Makes the List for Medical Waste

Surprisingly, it is more than just used needles that makes the list for medical waste. Here is the comprehensive list:

  • Bio-hazard waste--blood covered/soaked linens, bandages, gloves, operating gowns, etc.
  • Broken medical equipment that came into contact with patient's skin, blood, organs, etc.
  • Machines that no longer work and cannot be repaired or reused
  • Lab tests and testing supplies
  • Bodily organs that have been surgically removed and will not be implanted in another person's body

Essentially, anything medically-related that presents a major health risk to other patients or will cause them harm is medical waste. Even band-aids that have been soaked in blood are considered medical waste and have to go in the same red bio-hazard bags with bandages, gloves, etc.

Disposing of Medical Waste

There are sanitation groups that deal specifically with the removal and destruction of medical waste (such as MWaste). The EPA, or Environmental Protection Agency, regulates the disposal of all medical waste. Before a hospital or clinic can even schedule a pick-up of the waste, they have to bag it, label it, and tag it according to the regulations set by the EPA. Anything that can be burned is incinerated far from the public and everything else that can be stripped down, sterilized and melted down to create new parts is recycled.

Who to Call

Each state has its own medical waste services and management program. You can find your state's program by visiting your state government home page, and then clicking on sanitation and special waste disposal links. Otherwise, you can contact your city government and ask how to dispose of medical waste, although you should probably have a very good reason for doing so. Having enough medical waste that requires you to need special sanitation services usually and only applies to group homes, nursing homes and assisted living facilities that are all privately owned and operated and do not have any affiliations with any particular medical group.