Managing the day-to-day operations of a medical clinic is no walk in the park, as any administrator or office manager knows only too well. There’s lots of moving parts to manage every day, and it’s your job to meld all of them into one, very well-oiled machine. Many of the tasks that make things move along smoothly are delegated to others, but in the end, if there are problems, responsibility for them comes straight back to you.
Of course, there are some of those moving parts that must take priority, patient management and billing tasks, for instance. Then there are some that must be fit in around those essential tasks, and medical waste management is one of them. Since you don’t have a lot of time to deal with that process, you’ve put clear policies in place for staff members that generate or otherwise handle medical waste, detailing procedures for proper waste segregation, handling and storage.
But what if your staff is having trouble sticking to those rules? How can you motivate them to cooperate with your clinic’s medical waste management policies and procedures? Here, we’ve put together some tips that can help.
Knowledge is power, so the first step in empowering your clinic staff to do a better job with medical waste management is thorough training. Employees should be educated on general best practices and regulatory requirements for waste management, as well as your clinic’s specific procedures for ensuring compliance with them.
While some training on these issues is mandated under federal and state regulations, going above and beyond those minimum requirements may well make your life easier. Rather than just rattling off the rules they are to follow, make sure you explain why each step of the process is important. Outline how your workers and your patients can benefit from your procedures being followed consistently, as well as the potential health and legal risks that can arise if they are not. Often, knowing exactly why things must be done a certain way is good motivation for seeing that it happens.
Once your staff has been thoroughly trained in the details of proper medical waste management, you can empower individual employees to do a better job by evaluating their personal performance. If there are areas in which they are falling short of best practices, spend some time addressing where they are going wrong and what they can do to correct it. If time to problem-solve with individual employees is short, delegate this task to another employee who has the procedures down pat.
From medicine to mechanics, the rule of thumb is the same. Having the right tools for the task at hand is essential to completing it correctly and efficiently. When it comes to medical waste management in your clinic, that means having the right waste receptacles in every patient care area, and ensuring that they are placed strategically to make proper waste stream segregation fast and convenient right where that waste is generated.
Another solid tip for equipping your staff to do a great job with medical waste management is to give them visual reminders. For example, posting bright signs on or near receptacles that remind your staff what types of waste belong in each one. Providing “cheat sheets” for waste stream segregation can make it easier to keep things sorted properly during the course of a hectic work day.
As busy as you are day-to-day, it can be easy to focus only on what needs fixing, and forget to acknowledge what is done right. An encouraging word to staff members who do a great job following best waste practices – or are working hard to correct bad habits and get it right – can go a long ways towards motivating them to keep up the good work.
At this point, you may be asking yourself “Who has time for all this?” While it's true that taking these steps to get your staff motivated to cooperate will require a time investment, getting your staff on board will turn a process currently a source of frustration for you into a smooth and efficient one.