Is Your Doctor’s Office Complying With all Biological Waste Standards?
Biological waste disposal inside of a doctor’s office is ultimately the responsibility of the facility. Managing it can be a complicated issue, especially when trying to decipher the various regulations issued by state, local and federal governing bodies. One suggestion for a smaller doctor’s office would be to designate the packaging and transport within to a small team of employees that have been given special training for this responsibility.
Why is Biological Waste Packaging and Disposal Heavily Regulated?
A doctor’s office is responsible for the safe collection, packaging and disposal of all biological and hazardous waste generated during the course of patient care. This will include red plastic bags, sharps containers, and any other biohazardous waste. If your doctor’s office does not comply with the safe containment of biological waste and its disposal, you are potentially creating a community health issue and could face fines issued by the state and federal government.
The nature of biological waste poses a health hazard, particularly from bloodborne diseases. This is a multi-pronged issue, as there is a risk to healthcare workers, handlers, the public and the environment. For this reason, OSHA, EPA, and the FDA all have created certain guidelines for the safe transport and destruction of biological waste in doctor’s offices.
Special trash receptacles are used for the collection of biological waste at its source. Red plastic bags that are used for medical waste must be tear resistant and marked clearly to distinguish it from other trash. If using reusable containers, these must be constructed to not leak, preferably using gaskets at the opening door to prevent any leakage if accidentally overturned.
The collection of sharps is always as close as possible to the source of contamination, typically exam rooms. These are disposed of immediately in a sharps container by the health care professional who handled it. The FDA also state that a sharps container not be filled to more than 3/4 of its capacity to prevent accidental injury to an employee. Having the sharps container regularly changed out will ensure that your doctor’s offices meet that standard.
All sharps containers must also be:
- Made using a highly durable and puncture proof plastic
- Closeable, with a tight fitting lid that does not allow sharps placed inside to be pulled back out
- Able to stand upright or be mounted onto a wall in an upright position
- Leak proof, both along the bottom and sides
- Labeled as a biological waste container containing sharp objects
Special attention is given to sharps by the FDA and OSHA because of their ability to immediately pierce the skin and introduce a bloodborne pathogen directly into the handler’s bloodstream. Ensure your doctor’s office is always in compliance with these regulations to avoid any transmission of disease to one of your healthcare employees.
Biological waste disposal for doctor’s offices is complicated, and does require a lot of work to stay up to date and compliant. Your best recourse is to work directly with a disposal company that can train your employees how to transport any biological waste from its source, and who will pick it up at your facility and transport it securely to a destination where it will safely be destroyed without harming the environment.