In the 19th century, a physician recommended washing hands and keeping maternity wards unsoiled for reducing child mortality in Europe. He faced almost universal humiliation and was labeled a lunatic for his “outrageous” beliefs. Today there’s no doubt about the importance of medical waste reduction in our minds, though! By the end of the 20th century, environmentalist concerns compelled administrators to ensure eco-friendly removal of wastage. In 2021, the coronavirus pandemic requires doctors/nurses to ensure COVID-19 doesn’t spread from hospital wards. How can management ascertain that medical waste is being appropriately discarded? We’ve compiled some suggestions to satisfy this query.
1. Develop a waste management plan
Your chief priority must be to develop a formal waste disposal strategy for managing the medical garbage the hospital produces daily. This plan will serve as the foundation of your medical facility’s waste disposal campaign. Companies that keep confusion at bay by following formalized schemes reduce their wastage cost-effectively. How does your institution plan to regulate and diminish waste properly? Spell your plan out and make the terms as specific as possible for staff’s convenience.
2. Train your people
Secondly, you must train your staff to ensure that they properly discard medical wastage. There are online resources available now to educate your employees properly without education being just another burden over their busy schedules. Distance learning allows your healthcare workers to increase their academic capabilities at their own pace. They may consider pursuing a masters degree in healthcare management online to enhance their medical know-how. So, don’t compromise on education and leverage such opportunities.
This training will ascertain the proper implementation of wastage-related policies in the hospital. It also benefits sometimes to outsource waste removal services and employ the services of freelancers to conduct a complete cleansing of the facility. It may serve as a live demo for your team as well.
3. Segregate waste containers
It’s estimated that around 50% to 70% of medical waste is discarded through waste containers. This shows how heavily hospitals contribute to pollution. Discarding this wastage improperly may have some detrimental effects. Thus, it’s necessary to distribute waste containers throughout the medical facility to prevent incorrect waste disposal. But is placing multiple containers enough? It’s better to utilize color-coded containers. You can segregate the wastage properly by using a carefully crafted scheme. Use black-colored containers for regular trash, yellow-colored ones for chemotherapy wastage, and red-colored ones for medical rubbish. Moreover, green should mean garbage you intended to recycle.
4. Label medical waste bins
What if a patient or visitor accidentally accesses this waste and throws it away incorrectly? You must label the containers to ensure that nobody mistakes dangerous wastage for normal garbage. A sign that says “biohazard” will keep unwanted hands away from the waste container. Use bins that are appropriately marked to avoid any confusion in the future or the unexpected release of the contagions from the medical facility. So, place these containers containing hazardous waste in safe places.
In other words, restrict patient’s access to these containers. Don’t put them in a patient-accessible location. Moreover, you should use a large container for regular garbage for people’s handiness.
5. Sanitize properly
We don’t need to discuss excessively the importance of sanitization in 2021. Healthcare guidelines for protection against SARS-CoV-2 already accentuate the significance of sanitization and disinfection. Don’t just throw everything into that little container colored red.
You must sanitize your instruments properly whenever and wherever possible. Shabby sheets, worn towels, or dirty pillowcases – you don’t have to throw any of them away. Instead, sanitize these materials to diminish the amount of waste produced.
6. Know state laws
Statistics from 2018 reveal that American hospitals produced 5.9 million tons of waste annually. You must understand what sort of wastage is considered “regulated medical waste” to distinguish it from traditional garbage. So, deeply study your state-specific regulations to avoid confusion in the future. For example, is soiled linen considered medical wastage or not? Ensure that your answer to this question coincides with the laws of your state.
7. Reuse surgical instruments
Hospitals should consider switching to reusable medical instruments instead of depending on single-use equipment. Studies have indicated that utilizing reusable anesthetic equipment saves American operating theatres a whopping $5000 every year.
These instruments – therefore- are some cost-effective solutions to the wastage problem faced by hospitals today. But if you prefer single-use devices, don’t forget to discard them properly without any traces of contamination left behind!
8. Recycle effectively
Many hospitals contemplate increasing the amount of garbage they can recycle. Some studies show how healthcare facilities can transform one-third of their wastage into recyclable rubbish! Just don’t forget to separate infectious wastage from non-infectious wastage. But what sort of stuff can today be recycled? In Australia and New Zealand, scientists are working on recycling PVC plastic.
You can find this element in facemasks, oxygen tubes, and even IV bags used in hospitals. It can be recycled and then reutilized to create agricultural pipes and also children’s recreational equipment. But this kind of recycling procedure requires collaboration between hospitals and several other institutions. With teamwork, hospitals can implement their waste disposal plans properly.
How much do you think hospitals contribute to carbon emissions? Internationally, the healthcare sector is responsible for 4.4% to 4.6% of greenhouse emissions. In Australia, healthcare facilities produce approximately 7% of the country’s carbon footprint. In the United States, the American healthcare infrastructure alone contributes to 8.5% of greenhouse discharges, 80% of which comes from the supply chain. One can see why medical waste disposal has become a significant concern among environmentalists in recent years.
The global medical waste management market stayed at a whopping $6.8 billion last year but will reach $9 billion in 2025. It’s the responsibility of both doctors and patients to recycle items instead of putting them into a general container. You can diminish non-hazardous waste by using washable and recyclable items (prefer hand dryers over paper towels). But hazardous waste such as blood and other excrements mustn’t be recycled. Instead, they should be disposed of properly to ensure they harm nobody.