Medical waste can be a difficult thing for many doctor’s offices and smaller health care practices and facilities to handle. They might not have the significant disposal budget of an extensive network of hospitals or clinics, but because of the nature of the care they provide, they’re still required to deal with medical waste.
Medical waste mistakes can be very costly, not only in terms of money or potential fines, but even a small slip-up can lead to possible infections or severe health hazards. Sharps are used in almost every medical setting, so their disposal is a very common need in virtually every type of facility, ranging from cosmetic doctors offices to dentists offices.
With that in mind, below are four of the most common sharps-related mistakes that can easily be avoided in doctor’s offices of all kinds.
- Inadequate Signage
A lack of proper signage is something that’s often seen in medical practices, particularly smaller doctor’s offices. It’s unfortunate that signage isn’t adequate in many facilities because it’s such an easy, quick and inexpensive fix. Signage can ensure all employees are aware of how to adequately dispose of sharps, and it can prevent a lot of mistakes stemming from a lack of training or knowledge.
- Including Sharps with Regular Garbage
Since needles and other sharps are so regularly used in medical practices and doctor’s office, usage can begin to feel routine. This can lead to carelessness and the inclusion of sharps waste with regular garbage. This can become a huge problem because those sharps could eventually mix with the rest of the trash in the landfill and lead to problems like contaminated water. In the short-term, mixing sharps with regular trash could lead employees or other patients to become hurt or even sick.
- Including Sharps with Other Medical Waste
Just as sharps should never ben mixed with regular garbage, they also shouldn’t be included with other forms of hazardous or medical waste. If they’re lumped in with this waste, it can still present problems for employees or people in contact with the waste. Sharps should always be separated and on their own for the disposal process.
- Not Knowing What Constitutes Sharps
If employees aren’t properly trained they may not even know what’s considered sharps waste, and that it should be disposed of separately. For example, if you have employees who work in a laboratory setting in your office or facility, they should be trained on how not just to handle things like needles and syringes, but also broken lab slides and glassware. Glass tubes are also considered sharps in a medical setting. In addition to understanding what sharps are in a general sense, there are also different subcategories employees should be trained on, which can include non-contaminated, biohazardous and radioactive waste.
While the above mistakes can be potentially very dangerous, the good news is that they can also be remedied easily. By following the tips listed alongside these mistakes you can make sure your doctor’s office, clinic or laboratory is safer against very serious threats that result from improper sharps disposal.