It will soon be the Jewish New Year; a time when we take stock of how our life is being spent and doing inventory to make sure we will do better next year. Often, we discover that somehow, we’ve been doing things basically right… without thinking much. If you repeat a good behavior 3,000 times by habit, and three minutes later you can’t even remember what you just did, is that counted as a good deed?
Last week I needed my blood drawn. I figured it was a good time to speak to some of the technicians and get their perspective on medical waste disposal. There’s just one problem. Needles make me really uncomfortable… to put it mildly.
I got a veteran technician, thankfully, and she easily and casually kept up a random conversation while preparing the (tools I don’t like to really think about), swabbing me, and drawing my blood.
I looked around at the little cubicle, the containers, the biochemical waste hazard label, and tried to take my mind off the actual… needle. Before I knew it, it was all over. In a split-second, well-practiced, automatic movement, the technician stuck the medical waste in (I hope) the appropriate medical waste disposal containers. If I would have blinked, I would’ve missed it.
It always amazes me to see lab technicians multi-task like that. They are simultaneously gauging the patient for unusual reactions and taking care of the technical side of drawing blood: the actual drawing, the labeling, the sharps disposal… and they can be talking to you about the weather the entire time.
Most of our daily actions are semi-voluntary like that. Our brain has already memorized a certain sequence of activity so that our conscious mind remains clear to perform additional operations.
Medical waste disposal practices have to be streamlined and automatic for the medical practice to function efficiently. It would be pretty ridiculous if all the nurses, techinicians, doctors, etc. would need to think twice every time they were done with biochemical waste or something needing sharps disposal. They need to be present for the patient, not distracted by getting the container right.
On the other hand, the habit has to be a cognizant one. We do want medical personnel to be very aware of what they are doing. A habit that was entirely subconscious may result in errors and we can’t afford the consequences that would result!
Medical Waste Disposal Habits should be more like a daily pattern (cooking dinner) and less like involuntary or second nature behaviors. (breathing)There needs to be an underlying awareness of what we are doing and why it is important, even while our brains are pulling up autopilot protocols for getting it done without taking up too much headspace.
One way to prevent medical waste disposal habits from becoming entirely and obliviously thoughtless is to refresh training every once in a while. This is one of the reasons we offer OSHA Compliance Training. To schedule online training, check out our website or call 866-254-5105. Get instant OSHA-compliant online Hazcom, Bloodborne Pathogens and HHS-compliant HIPAA training for all of your employees.
Our little part to ensure that employees and staff get into the knack of using proper medical waste disposal practices, as opposed to just falling into the habit.