As the saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t know when you get there. Every organization needs a strategic plan to guide its efforts and your medical practice is no different — especially when it comes to effectively managing your medical waste. We’re here to help you develop a medical waste management plan to guide your efforts. With a plan, you can insure that your medical practice is following the proper procedures to increase efficiency and maintain compliance. Following, are the general guidelines you should follow when developing a plan to manage your regulated medical waste.
Your Main Goal is Compliance
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC) require that all medical waste generators notify them to be assigned an identification number. Then, the agencies requires each generator to prepare, maintain, and update (as necessary) a written plan to make sure their waste is properly managed. Besides maintaining compliance, your plan will provide clear communication for your employees and set in place the procedures that you need to make sure your practice’s medical waste is handled efficiently.
What Type of Medical Waste Do You Generate?
You will need to provide a list of the specific types of waste that your medical practice generates. Broad categories include:
- Cultures & stocks of infectious agents and associated biologicals
- Human pathological waste
- Human blood and blood products
- Sharps that have been used in human or animal patient care or in laboratories
- Animal waste
- Isolation wastes
- Unused sharps
Detail Procedures for Segregation, Packaging and Labeling, and Pickup
Before your untreated medical waste can be transported off-site, it must be properly packaged and maintained. The following should be described:
- Type of containers used and labeling procedure
- Sharps packaging and labeling
- Use of small containers
- Outermost layer of packaging
- Strength and moisture resistance of containers
- Handling of containers
- Proper closure of bag prior to closing the container
- Single use containers
Storage, Treatment, and Disposal Information
ADEM and TDEC specify that storage begins after a shipping container has been prepared for shipment to a storage or treatment facility. There are specific rules that apply to storing untreated medical waste, including how long and under what conditions the waste can be stored, as well as the following facility guidelines:
- Structure and use of the storage facility
- Employee precautions
If your medical waste will be stored off-site, you must provide company information, including name/address/phone, the ADEM or TDEC permit number, and the person responsible. Provide this information for:
- Storage facilities utilized off-site
- All treatment/processing facilities utilized
- All disposal facilities utilized
Frequency of Pickup
How frequently is your medical waste removed off-site? Be specific about whether it is picked up daily, every week, every two weeks, once a month, or as needed. Be specific about your pick-up schedule if it is not on a regular basis.
The next section of your medical waste management plan will detail the training that your employees receive to minimize their exposure to infectious agents. How are they trained to recognize regulated medical waste and to properly manage it? You will need to provide the specific type of training that is provided, and the name of the person who conducts the training and documents it for each employee. (Documentation should be kept in the employee’s file and in the waste management file.)
Post Your Plan
Finally, note where your plan is posted and detail any other measures that your practice takes to avoid employee and patient exposure to regulated medical waste. You should also document emergency procedures in the event of exposure.
These general guidelines can help you put together a medical waste management plan that follows ADEM and TDEC requirements. For more specific details, download the ADEM Medical Waste Program or TDEC’s Universal and Hazardous Waste Management requirements for healthcare facilities in Tennessee.
We realize that poring over regulations can be time consuming, so TriHaz provides a complimentary waste management plan for our customers, to make the process even easier. We also provide convenient, online training. A comprehensive plan will help you protect your patients and employees, maintain compliance, and increase your medical practice’s efficiency when it comes to handling medical waste.