How the Medical Waste Disposal Process Works

Put simply, medical waste is any material produced in healthcare that’s contaminated by or may come into contact with certain biohazardous substances (like blood or other bodily fluids).

Medical waste categories are formed based on how dangerous waste items are, what type of container certain materials should be stored in, and what type of institution might produce this waste.

Common types of medical waste include:

  • Contaminated sharps
  • Contaminated animal carcasses, body parts, and bedding
  • Isolation waste
  • Pathological waste
  • Human blood and blood products
  • Cultures and stocks of infectious agents
  • Items and materials that come into contact with blood or bodily fluids, such as surgical tools
  • Used or soiled bandages or swabs

Medical Waste Disposal: Step-by-Step

Bag of sharps separated out for disposalThere are four simple steps in the medical waste disposal process: collection and sorting, storage, transportation, and final disposal.

1. Collection & Sorting

When medical waste is created, it should be sorted depending on what kind of medical waste it is, and then disposed of in the correct bin. Medical waste containers are color-coded based on the categories of medical waste to make proper disposal easier.

2. Storage

While the disposal of biohazardous waste at least once every 30 days is legally required, not all medical waste types have such time limits. Still, it’s a good idea to regularly dispose of your medical waste to ensure a clean and safe environment.

In addition to how long certain waste is stored, it’s also important to make sure it is being stored in the right container. Sharps waste, like needles, should be stored in hard plastic containers while infectious liquid or other wet waste should be stored in durable leak-proof bins or bags.

3. Transportation

Medical Waste Disposal Bins

Proper storage is critical for easy and risk-free transportation. Whether you’re taking it yourself or having a service pick it up, having properly stored waste will prevent spillage or other contamination during transportation.

Make sure each container is properly sealed, not overfilled, and properly labeled. That way, you can maximize safety and reduce the risk of contamination for you or someone else.

4. Final Disposal

After your medical waste is transported to the disposal facility, it is destroyed or sterilized by one of several methods. Most medical waste is incinerated, however some kinds of waste may undergo autoclaving or radiation treatment depending on the type of material.

These processes are necessary to effectively dispose of medical waste, and should always be done professionally.

Need a Medical Waste Disposal Service?

Medical Waste Pros partners with professional medical waste disposal services across the United States. To get started finding the right service for you, simply fill out the form on the right or give us a call at 888-755-6370 for free, no-obligation quotes from medical waste disposal providers in your area.