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Is Your IV Clinic Breaking Alabama Waste Disposal Laws?

Kevin Webber - Apr 21, 2020 8:00:00 AM

IV hydration therapy alabama waste disposal lawsThere are plenty of waste items under Alabama’s medical waste umbrella that are obviously infectious waste:

  • Animal waste.
  • Blood and body fluids.
  • Microbiological waste.
  • Pathological waste.
  • Renal dialysis waste.
  • Sharps.
  • Blood-contaminated surgical waste.

Other waste items, though, fall into a gray area and it can be confusing knowing if they’re considered hazardous waste and, if so, how they should be disposed of. Saline bags used in hydration therapy are one such item.

What is IV Hydration Therapy?

Most people are at least familiar with what an IV is: an intravenous catheter that allows fluids and medications to flow into an arm or hand vein. They’re typically used in surgeries and emergency rooms and while the IV lines themselves are usually painless, the needle stick that happens before the catheter is put in place can be painful. Used for a host of treatments, including blood transfusions, IVs can dramatically increase a patient’s chance of survival.

That brings us to a relatively new popular trend: IVs on demand. People are now opting to receive IV fluids that aren’t medically recommended in the comfort of their office, home, or even at what’s known as “drip bars.” Some hydration therapy service providers offer special additives like vitamins and electrolytes. Others are used to treat:

  • Nausea
  • Chronic pain
  • Heartburn

What began as a celebrity lifestyle choice to treat hangovers, dehydration, and jet lag has now gone mainstream.

Medical Waste and IV Clinics

Medical waste is broadly defined as any item that comes into contact with body fluids. That includes sharps, needles, IV catheters, bandages, and gauze which must be properly disposed of according to Alabama’s waste disposal laws. But what about the saline bags, fluids, vitamins, and other additives?

Saline bags, also called drips or IVs, are most commonly used to transfer saline, a salt solution of purified water, into a person’s body. The ratio of salt to water is typically equal to what naturally occurs in the human body.

  • Saline or electrolyte solution bags are not considered hazardous or pharmaceutical waste. Fluids may be put down the drain and the bag itself can be placed in either a regular or recycled waster container.
  • IV bags contaminated with chemo agents are considered infectious medical waste and will need to be disposed of according to Alabama’s waste disposal laws.

The needle and tubing used in the process makes contact with blood and blood products and is defined by OSHA as infectious waste. Since Alabama is one of the 26 states covered entirely by the federal OSHA program, the management of sharps must be handled according to the agency’s regulations.

  • Needles should be placed in an approved sharps container.
  • Tubing is placed in red bag waste.

If you’re not sure which items are considered infectious or medical waste, your local governing agent or an experienced medical waste disposal company can help you get a medical waste disposal plan in place.

What to Know About Medical Waste Disposal in Alabama

There are four main areas of waste disposal that an IV clinic in Alabama should be aware of.

  • The state defines a medical waste generator as any facility or person who produces or generates medical waste. Included in this list are hospitals, laboratories, funeral homes, tattoo studios, clinics, and more.
  • Trained staff members who know how to properly identify medical waste exclusions should separate treated and untreated medical waste and place it in the proper containers.
  • Proper packaging and labeling that prevents leaks and spills and protects staff members who handle contaminated waste must be used throughout the handling, storage, transportation, and treatment stages. Sturdy, waterproof containers must contain your clinic’s name and address, the date the waste was packaged, and one of the following identifiers: “Medical Waste,” “Infectious,” or “Biohazardous Waste.”
  • Unlike other states that allow 30 to 90 days storage time, Alabama’s storage laws require that treated and untreated medical waste must not be stored for more than seven calendar days from the day storage begins.

IV clinics operating in Alabama must meet the same strict medical waste requirements as other facilities. If your clinic is unsure what’s required to be in compliance with state and federal waste disposal laws, education and training offered by a local hazardous waste management service company can help.

Click to download medical waste handling guide

Topics: Medical Waste- Alabama Hazardous Waste

Kevin Webber

Kevin Webber

Kevin Webber is a partner at TriHaz Solutions and actively involved in the day-to-day business from a strategic and operational standpoint. He has a successful background in business/investment management and entrepreneurship, including recognition by Inc. Magazine’s 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies.

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