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Common vs. Regulated Medical Waste

In fact, there are a few clearly set categories of medical waste while the term “medical waste” concerns to a very broad range of waste materials produced by facilities and businesses in the healthcare industry. These categories have very strict guidelines mandated by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) that refer to the proper dumping of medical waste.

If you do not manage to properly follow OSHA guidelines it will not only bring to significant fines, but could also cause serious harm to the health of customers and workers. OSHA has put guidelines in place for a good reason, so it’s important that businesses in industries that produce medical waste know about the different medical waste categories, and the disposal guidelines that concern to them.

Where to Start

Everyone must be familiar with some existing extensive subcategories of medical waste, but first of all, the whole medical waste fits into one of two categories—common medical waste and regulated medical waste. The main difference between these two categories is that regulated medical waste is any waste that contains or has been exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIMs).

OPIMs most typically refer to human blood or anything that has been infected with it, however can also refer to the materials contaminated with other bodily fluids such as:

  • Semen
  • Vaginal secretions
  • Cerebrospinal fluid (fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord)
  • Synovial fluid (fluid surrounding bone joints)
  • Pleural fluid
  • Pericardial fluid
  • Peritoneal fluid
  • Amniotic fluid

Pathogenic microorganisms are also considered OPIMs unlike sweat, tears, saliva (except in dental procedures), urine, feces, and vomit which are not.

This differentiation is critical because the materials are possibly infectious and harmful to human health. OSHA guidelines regulating the disposal of medical waste generally concerns to OPIMs containing waste, and are therefore mostly concerned with regulated medical waste.

Nearly all biological waste may contain OPIMs, but much medical waste does not actually match this criterion. Indeed, a great deal of the medical waste generated is considered common medical waste. Common medical waste can include any materials containing sweat, urine, feces, or saliva, because these are not considered to be OPIMs. Only several examples of common medical waste include, but are not limited to:

  • Empty IV bags
  • Empty stool or urine containers
  • Foley/catheter bags
  • Bedpans
  • Exam gloves
  • Unused medical products and supplies (excluding unused sharps).

Thus, as you are already a little aware of the differentiation between these two categories, get ready to get acquainted with regulated medical waste, its subcategories, and how they are defined.

Regulated Medical Waste

The term “medical waste” is clearly defined OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard — which is the central regulated medical waste disposal guideline — defines regulated medical waste as, “liquid or semi-liquid blood or other potentially infectious material (OPIM); infected items that would release blood or OPIM in a liquid or semi-liquid state if compressed; items that are caked with dried blood or OPIM and are capable of releasing these materials during handling; contaminated sharps; and pathological and microbiological wastes containing blood or OPIM.”

As this definition is not limited, however, state legislation often defines regulated medical waste and handling guidelines further. The definition of medical waste of each state and guidelines differ a little, so before acting be sure to check with your local.

Commonly, six different subcategories of medical waste are defined by states. These categories are mentioned below:

 Pathological / Anatomical Waste

  • All human and animal wastes that are detectable as body tissues, organs, or body parts are called Anatomical waste, while pathological wastes are human tissue samples collected for getting to understand better a patient’s disease or ailments.

Cultures and Stocks of Infectious Agents

  • The specimens from medical and pathology laboratories, culture dishes, and devices used to transfer, inoculate, and mix that are included in them, and they seem to contain organisms that may be pathogenic to healthy humans. Discarded live and attenuated vaccines are also included in this category

Contaminated Sharps

  • These items are the ones which may bring subdermal inoculation of infectious agents or that can easily penetrate the skin, damage waste bags and cardboard boxes such as hypodermic needles, syringes, Pasteur pipettes, capillary tubes, razor blades, scalpel blades, and broken glass from the laboratory.
  • A special handling and packaging under both OSHA and DOT s required for sharps. Turn to your state’s guidelines when identifying what items are classified as sharps.

Isolation Waste

  • Waste isolation is any biological or contaminated waste caused by isolated or quarantined humans and animals to protect others from highly communicable diseases.

Contaminated Animal Parts and Bedding

  • Any animal carcasses, body parts, bedding and related wastes that may have been exposed to infectious agents during research, production of biologicals, or testing of pharmaceuticals are considered to be contaminated and must be properly disposed of.

As you notice, there are many materials that could be called regulated medical waste. Teaching and research labs should take particular caution, as the guidelines don’t often directly point to these types of medical waste producing entities, but have an equal opportunity to cause harm to employees and others through the improper handling of such waste.

Protect Your Business and Employees with Compliant Medical Waste Disposal Services

It is your obligation to dispose of this waste as a medical waste producer. If you do not manage to do so can cause severe damage to innocent people and cost you your business.

Glycon Medical Waste knows that this process is complicated and full of opportunities to make mistakes, because of this we’ve developed tried-and-true compliant methods to handle your medical waste with ease. We offer a number of medical waste services across a variety of industries and are fully equipped to meet your requirements concerning to  medical waste.

To learn more about our medical waste services, request a free quote by filling out the form to the right or give us a call at (844) 494-8222

7 Facts Everyone Should Know About The Medical Waste Industry

Dumping medical waste can be to a great degree exacting as the regulators and the laws they design continue changing randomly keeping even the most experienced veterans out of the circle. A very rough explanation of medical waste is any waste material that has made contact with the body’s fluids. These materials are biological dangers and must be removed. Medical waste must be handled by authorized and licensed agencies. The following 7 facts everyone should know about the ever-changing face of medical waste industry.

They are more expensive than regular waste.

Removed medical waste may cost more than 6 times the cost of handling regular waste. The cost may differ taking into account what type the medical waste is. Handling diseased syringes is completely different than trace chemotherapy.

Dangers of improper waste disposal

A very convenient method of treating dangerous medical waste is to have it burnt. The tissues used to treat sick patients are the leaders in the list of dangerous items– the contagious, deadly viruses they house deep inside can become airborne on contact with the outside air.

Some agencies do not bear responsibility towards the environment and simply dispose their waste along with their obligations into the sea – only for the deadly pathogens to infect fresh air and for infected syringes to wash up ashore.

Medical waste handlers need proper training

Besides the legal suggestions of getting listless with medical waste (getting involved in costly law suits), there are life threatening concerns posed to all agencies involved in medical waste violation. It is important to ensure that medical waste handlers pass proper OSHA training.

Most facilities only have as long as 30 days to store biowaste

Though every state can have its own laws, the general ruling is to not store medical waste for more than 30 days in your containers. If you do not abide this rule it could bring   your firm getting charged with costly fines, let alone putting your reputation on the line.

Identifying the types of medical waste

Your workers need to become experts at the fine art of identifying different kinds of medical waste after acquiring knowledge from appropriate courses and certifications. It is a pity as blood stained tissues and cotton to end up in regular trash; following which the chemical breakup from prolonged exposure to the sun causes the trapped viruses to become airborne.

Medical waste transportation – a separate issue

Studying the regulations related to medical waste transportation is a totally different ball game, making you take permission from your state regulator. Training employees to handle the transportation side of things is both expensive and laborious.

Even common homes may bring about medical waste

The above mentioned is true, but it can’t be compared with the amount of waste the hospital facility does. All those bandages you use to wipe the blood, puss and other fluids are considered to be medical waste. This also includes any self-administered syringes and at-home tests such those used for testing blood sugar levels.

Glycon Medical Waste makes easy waste management for the Healthcare Industry through offering Medical Waste Disposal, Pathological Waste Disposal, Medical Waste Pickup Services and Recycling needs. Glycon Medical Waste offers full service waste management specifically designed to deliver to the California Healthcare Industry.