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Why Is It So Important That Medical Waste Be Taken Care of Properly?

surgical wasteLaissez Faire can be a good idea and all, but there are certain industries that absolutely need government regulation.

Namely, the hospital waste treatment industry.

Here’s why:

A Large Portion of Hospital Wastes Are Dangerous.
There are four different types of medical waste. There’s general waste, infectious medical waste, radioactive waste, and hazardous waste.

General waste refers to the type of garbage and trash you might normally find in a household, and makes up about 80% of the waste generated by healthcare activities. However, 20% of all medical waste is still a lot.

Health care facilities generate about 2 million tons of medical and surgical wastes each year, which breaks down to about 5,500 tons of waste generated each day. That’s 1,100 tons — 2,200,000 pounds — of hospital and surgical wastes that’s considered to be dangerous, the majority of which (15%) is infectious and anatomic waste.

Hazardous Medical Waste Can Pose a Huge Threat to People’s Health.
If hospital and surgical wastes are mishandled, people could get hurt, sick, or infected. Each year, about 16 billion injections are administered across the world, but not all are properly disposed of. According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), some 260,000 new HIV infections were directly related to the mismanagement of needles and syringes.

Mishandling Medical Waste Can Negatively Impact the Environment.
If not handled correctly, hospital and surgical wastes could wind up severely damaging the environment. One of the most common medical waste disposal methods is incineration. Though it works quite well, it can actually pollute the environment if not done correctly.

During the Ebola crisis, Liberia was warned not to use old incinerators to destroy all of the hospital and surgical waste produced by the pandemic by WHO, as it could release chemicals into the air and pollute the West African country’s environment. However, the overwhelming amount of medical waste produced by Ebola forced the nation to use them.

Hospital and surgical wastes need to be handled correctly.

If not, people could get hurt.

If you have any questions about how medical waste is managed, feel free to share in the comments.