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How Often Should You Schedule Medical Waste Pickup?

Deciding how often you need pickup services for your medical waste is critical for the healthy functioning of your medical practice. Often doctors and other medical personnel are so busy seeing patients that they neglect to adequately ensure that their medical waste is properly disposed of.

Scheduling your medical waste management pickup services depends on several factors:

In most cities and counties there are both local and state laws regulating the containment and disposal of medical waste created in patient care, surgical, and other medical procedures. It is important to know what the regulations are for your practice.

Waste is classified as either:

  • Medical waste, which is non-contaminated waste that could be injurious to persons coming into contact with it, or
  • Biohazardous waste, which is waste containing bodily fluids, blood, and other potentially infectious human waste products.

The type of medical practice you have will determine how often your medical waste needs to be picked up.

  1. Do you generate a lot of biohazardous waste? If so, you may want to schedule frequent pickups. Biohazardous waste can end up with an unpleasant odor if left too long before a pickup. It can also cause medical problems and liability issues.
  2. Do you give a lot of injections? It is recommended that Sharps containers not be reused without being sterilized.
  3. Do you do outpatient surgery to remove growths? These tissues definitely need a more frequent pickup.

Home health care, hospice care, dialysis, and physical therapy are areas that need to have medical waste plans in place. Budgetary constraints are also a consideration for some corporations whose medical personnel generate medical waste, but infecting people with hazardous waste is much more costly than budgeting appropriately to take care of this important necessity.

The dangers of leaving hazardous medical waste lying around

According to a statement by the World Health Organization, being exposed to hazardous medical waste can cause a wide variety of illnesses and injuries.

  • It can be genotoxic (damaging to cellular genetic information possibly resulting in cancer) or it can be radioactive.
  • Medical personnel are usually the first persons to be infected by improperly disposed of medical waste.
  • Patients and visitors are also at risk of exposure, especially children, whose curiosity leads them to investigate unusual things in their environment.
  • Support services workers are also at risk when they end up having to handle medical waste in the performance of their duties. Cleaning personnel and laundry workers are among the first exposed to improperly disposed of medical waste.
  • Medical waste that makes its way into city dumps also poses a risk for the facility’s workers, scavengers, and wildlife.
  • Antibiotic resistant bacteria are on the rise due to the overuse of antibiotics, especially their use in farm animals that end up in the food chain. These bacteria are pervasive and need to be contained in medical facilities, so proper and timely disposal of medical waste is imperative.

It makes good business sense to schedule regular pickups of medical waste, and to coordinate them with your level of usage of items that become medical waste. It is also a good practice to have a medical waste pickup company on call for those times when your medical waste collectors begin to fill up.