Knowledge and Standards in Operations are Critical for Controlling Medical Waste Disposal in a Dental Office
Dental care generates its own waste products, most of which can be disposed of as a part of your office trash removal program. Some products however cannot simply be thrown in the trash, and require specialized systems for their disposal. If you and your dental office employees are not aware of these items and proper methods for disposal, you are creating a health risk in your office.
There are two types of medical waste generated inside of a dental office; regulated medical waste and hazardous chemical waste. They both need to have their own system of labeling and disposal in order to meet OSHA and state safe handling guidelines. Failure to do so could result in fines for your dental office as well as the potential health risks to you, your staff and your patients.
Hazardous Waste in a Dental Office
There are a number of products being used in a typical dental office that are designated as hazardous waste. This includes:
- The chemicals used to process X-rays
- X-ray film
- Acid etch
- Some Adhesives
- Lead foil, and
Amalgam is the most well known hazardous waste associated with dental offices. Since it does contain mercury its disposal is highly regulated on the state and federal level.
Creating an Effective Medical Waste Disposal Strategy in a Dental Office
The management of hazardous and medical waste is a time and money taxing process. Flaws in your current system must first be identified before changes in policy can be made to correct them. Yet the alternative to creating an effective medical waste disposal plan could be expensive fines and loss of business, deeming it a necessity in your dental office.
Substitution of hazardous materials is a good place to start, as there are alternatives readily available. For example, if your current sanitizing solutions fall under the hazardous material category, you can replace it with one that is just as effective without being harmful. X-ray chemicals in your dental office can be eliminated by switching to a digital radiograph system.
Another solution is to recycle certain dental by-products rather than dispose of them. Old crowns, lead foil and dental amalgam can all be recycled inside a proper facility for use in other applications.
Medical waste disposal for dental offices includes sharps such as needles used to administer anesthesia, and gauze that has been contaminated by blood and other bodily fluids. These need to be separated from other dental office trash and managed by a professional medical waste disposal company. Gloves, bibs, and gauze that does release blood when compressed also need to be disposed of in a manner where there is no chance of accidental bare handed contact by office staff or cleaning specialists.
Your local regulatory agency is your best source of information for the specific requirements of your dental office. Dental practices will generate at least one type of waste in their daily practices, but having clearing defined its proper handling with all staff will ensure that you are meeting all the guidelines for managing its disposal.