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About medical waste, types and safe ways to eliminate

According to healthcare providers, the biggest challenges that they face on a day to day basis is disposing of medical wastes. Often, there are other concerns like epidemiology, HIPAA, local and state regulations and potential civil litigation that may cause complications. Few examples related to medical wastes include the following:

  • Animal or human tissues generated during procedures.
  • Anything soaked with blood (gowns, gauze, gloves, etc.)
  • Infectious agent/disease cultures
  • Discarded vaccines
  • Wastes produced within the patients’ rooms combined with communicable diseases. 

Definition

Medical waste can be defined as any type of waste comprising of infections materials. The definition also includes wastes created at healthcare facilities such as hospitals, physician’s offices, laboratories, dental practices, veterinary clinics and medical research facilities. 

Bodily fluids may be present in the medical waste like contaminants or blood. It is rather defined as a waste that is created during medical testing, research, treatment, immunization or diagnosis of either animals or human beings. Few examples are glassware, culture dishes, gloves, bandages discarded sharps such as scalpels, needles, tissue and swabs. 

Biomedical Hospital Incinerator can help eliminate such wastes cautiously and safely. 

Different terms used for medical waste

Several names are given to medical wastes with all having similar basic definition. The terms given below are wastes that are generated while carrying out healthcare procedure, which is contaminated due to some infectious material.

  • Biomedical waste
  • Medical waste
  • RMW (Regulated medical waste)
  • Bio-hazardous waste
  • Clinical waste
  • Healthcare waste
  • Infectious medical waste

However, the terms are interchangeably used. Contaminated supplies, fluids, human tissue and sharps are categorized by the WHO as ‘bio-hazardous’, while animal tissue and non-contaminated equipment are called ‘general medical waste. 

As a matter of fact, kitchen waste, sweeping waste and office paper from healthcare facilities are also technically termed as medical waste, although not regulated or hazardous in nature. 

Types

Medical waste is said to cover wide range of by-products emerging in the healthcare industry. Some common WHO identified waste categories are given below:

  • Infectious waste: Anything potentially infectious or infectious including tissues, swabs, lab cultures, equipment, excreta etc. fall in this category. 
  • Sharps: It includes anything which pierces the skin like lancets, scalpels, needles, ampoules, razors, broken glass, trocars, wires, staples, etc. 
  • Pathological: Tissue human fluids, body parts, blood, contaminated animal carcasses and bodily fluids. 
  • Radioactive: It is unused lab research liquid or radiotherapy liquid and also comprises any supplies or glassware contaminate with the liquid. 
  • Chemical: They are solvents, disinfectants that are utilized for lab purposes, heavy metals and batteries including medical equipment like mercury derived from broken thermometers. 
  • Pharmaceuticals: It includes expired, unused, contaminated drugs and vaccines and also encompasses pills, injectables and antibiotics. 
  • Genotoxic waste: It is highly hazardous and is mutagenic, teratogenic or carcinogenic. It includes cytotoxic drugs to treat cancer. 

Hospitals and medical faculties require proper biomedical waste management like the medical incinerator with conveyor to ensure that these harmful wastes are disposed properly.

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