Medical Waste Regulations and Best Practices for 2023

Medical waste generators are responsible for staying up-to-date on the most recent regulatory changes and best practices in medical waste disposal. Updates happen every year to reflect new research, technologies, and safety protocols. Medical Waste Pros supports medical professionals and related businesses by closely following new guidelines, laws, and regulations to keep you in compliance. 

Standard Best Practices

  1. Separation

Any employee handling medical waste should be trained to identify and separate different types of waste. Separation ensures that your waste will be handled, transported, and treated properly. Potentially hazardous waste (sharps, pharmaceuticals, biohazards, etc.) should be completely separated from non-hazardous waste. 

Many healthcare settings use color coding to clearly separate waste streams. Regulated or biohazardous waste typically go in red containers. Pharmaceutical waste goes in black. Radioactive materials go in yellow. Non-hazardous materials go in blue.   

  1. Packaging

Different types of medical waste require different types of packaging. Sharps, for example, require puncture-proof, durable plastic containers. You can throw other types of waste into bags.

Package labels differ based on their contents. Pathology waste, infectious waste, biohazardous waste, and chemotherapy waste all require different labels. 

After you separate and package the waste, store it in a clean and publicly inaccessible space. Maintain the contents at a standard temperature and make sure it is only available to authorized individuals for transport. 

3. Documentation

Documentation is an important step in protecting the waste generator and the waste disposal company. Each container or bag should have its accompanying paperwork throughout transport. Paperwork varies based on location but may include a Medical Waste Tracking Form.

4. Professional Removal

Professional medical waste removal companies ensure responsible disposal of your medical waste. Medical Waste Pros partners with licensed and highly trained companies to reduce your liability and maintain compliance. Our skilled professionals can help create a waste removal schedule and segregation system to reduce costs and keep you safe. 

Important Medical Waste Regulation Updates for 2023

Medical waste regulations come from both state and federal levels. Many federal agencies, including OSHA, EPA, DEA, DOT, and USPS have oversight when it comes to creating medical waste guidelines. Each individual state then regulates the disposal of medical waste based on the provided guidelines. 

The Hazardous Waste Generator Improvement Rule is an EPA standard regulating the management of hazardous waste. The rule intends to close gaps in the regulations and facilitate better compliance. Currently, 40 states and Puerto Rico have adopted this rule. 

  • Washington D.C. is reviewing the rule, and it is estimated to go into effect early in 2023. 
  • Minnesota is currently amending the rule. The proposed publish date is May 2023, until then the existing rule remains in effect. 
  • Kansas and New York are currently drafting the rule and expecting it to take effect in 2024.
  • Maine, Nebraska, and New Hampshire are reviewing the rule and expecting it to go into effect in 2024.

The Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals (Subpart P) aims to streamline handling standards, reduce costs, and make our drinking water safer. 27 states have adopted these standards. 

  • Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, and Wyoming adopted the rule in 2022. 
  • Washington D.C. and Arkansas will likely adopt in 2023.

The EPA added aerosol cans to the Universal Waste Regulations to reduce the environmental hazards of disposing of aerosols with municipal waste. Most states have adopted this rule, including 7 additional states in 2022. 

• Virginia has finalized the adoption of this rule. It went into effect on January 18, 2023.

• Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Washington D.C. are expected to adopt this rule in 2023. 

OSHA published a proposed rule, Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, to revise electronic injury and illness reporting requirements. The comment period for the proposed rule has closed and the next step will be developing the final rule. 

Medical Waste Regulation Changes Coming This Year

Medical waste regulations changes you should be on the lookout for in 2023 include:

• OSHA proposed changes to the HazCom Standard regarding labeling requirements and health hazard statements. 

• OSHA, EPA, and other federal civil penalties for non-compliance will increase. All federal fines will go up in accordance with the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015.  HIPAA violation penalties are also likely to increase with inflation. 

• The HIPAA Privacy Rule may see changes to increase patient access to protected health information (PHI) and electronic health records (EHRs). 

• Policies related to COVID-19 will likely be altered, permanently added, or removed.

Put Medical Waste Best Practices into Effect with Medical Waste Pros.

The best way to deal with medical waste is by following the standard best practices. Medical Waste Pros has training options to keep you prepared and reliable waste removal companies to maintain legal compliance. Start today by calling (888) 755-6370 or filling out the form. We will send you free quotes from local companies in just minutes.