What is Infectious Waste?

What is Infectious Waste?

Healthcare providers create a unique waste stream that is highly regulated to control the spread of disease and prevent injury. Hospitals and other medical facilities must take proper measures to adequately handle, segregate, and dispose of their medical waste. Proper waste stream identification and segregation are critical in the protection of employees, the public, and the environment.

Medical waste can be separated into 4 categoriesgeneral waste, infectious, hazardous, and radioactive. Each type of waste is commonly generated and requires the specific collection, handling, and disposal methods. Healthcare providers should be trained in each type of waste and the required handling practices.

Using professional medical waste services and enrolling your staff in compliance training programs ensures that your waste will be properly handled. Maintain legal compliance and protect your local community from the dangers of medical waste with Medical Waste Pros services and programs.

Infectious Medical Waste

Infectious waste is an organism or waste product that poses a risk of infection to humans or animals. Healthcare workers are commonly exposed to infectious waste that includes:

  • Blood and blood products: Includes blood-soaked bandages and other materials, plasma, serum, and additional blood components.
  • Pathological waste: Tissues or body parts removed from a human or animal that is intended for disposal.
  • Regulated human bodily fluids: Includes amniotic fluid, cerebrospinal fluid, pleural fluid, pericardial fluid, and others. It also includes solid items soaked with bodily fluids.
  • Sharps: Items that can cut or puncture skin; including needles, syringes, lancets, scalpels, razors, and broken glass.
  • Laboratory waste: Includes cultures, stocks, or agents used in the development of disease treatments or the production of biological agents that may be hazardous to humans.
  • Animal waste: Any blood, body part, or carcass of an animal that has been exposed to infectious agents during scientific or medical research.

Handling Infectious Waste

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) created the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard to protect workers that may be exposed to blood and other potentially infectious materials. The Standard requires employers to implement an exposure control plan that details protection measures for identifying, handling, and disposing of infectious materials.

Infectious waste should always be handled with the use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes gloves, gowns, eye protection, and masks. Labels and signs should clearly communicate hazards by being affixed to containers, refrigerators, and freezers. Employees should receive annual training on bloodborne pathogens and methods to control disease exposure. A post-exposure plan should also be in place in the event that an exposure incident occurs.

Disposing of Infectious Waste

Measures for discarding infectious medical waste items are designed to protect healthcare workers, patients, and those who manage waste through disposal. Biohazardous and potentially infectious waste is also known as red bag waste. Red bags are easily identified and help avoid improper handling. Infectious waste should be collected in red biohazard bags and containers that are sturdy and securely closed.

When your red bag waste is ready for disposal a licensed medical waste company will take the waste offsite for destruction. Materials can be destroyed using an autoclave (steam sterilization), incineration, or microwaving; depending on the types of waste. After infectious waste is properly treated, it can be taken to a landfill or further incinerated.

Learn More about Safe Handling of Medical Waste with Medical Waste Pros

Handling infectious medical waste is dangerous and risky. Give your employees the best protection against disease exposure with Bloodborne Pathogens and HIPAA training programs. Educated employees reduce the risk of improper handling, exposure events, and help maintain legal compliance. Call us at (888) 755-6370 or fill out the form to receive free quotes on our medical waste disposal services and training programs today.