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Whose Responsibility Is It? You and Your Waste Management Company

Kevin Webber - May 21, 2019 8:30:00 AM

Every medical facility administrator knows that medical waste requires proper management to ensure safety of the general population, animals, and the environment. Compliance with local, state, and federal regulations are an important part of the job function.

responsibility-clinic-medical-waste-96933Health care facility managers and waste management companies work together to make sure hazardous medical waste is properly disposed of. But who’s responsible for what? Here's a quick breakdown of your and your waste management company’s respective duties.

Responsibilities of Health Care Facility Managers

An administrator’s job is one of the busiest at any health care facility. You need to ensure conditions are optimal for delivering the best care to patients while staying up-to-date on code compliance, maintaining certification, and other day-to-day operations.

As busy as you are, it's important to note there are tasks that do not fall directly under your job responsibilities. For example, overseeing hazardous waste management and disposal does not mean you yourself roll up your sleeves to do the work. But you must coordinate with your facility’s waste management company for proper disposal while keeping your staff knowledgeable and trained on in-house disposal protocol.

As a waste generator, your facility is responsible for regulated waste streams from beginning to end. If an accident happens, authorities look to the waste generator when imposing fines for improperly handling waste. Segregating waste is key to fulfilling your role in proper medical waste management.

In addition to the color coding of waste containers, the following practices are required for compliance.

  • Proper training and thorough knowledge of proper procedures by staff to mitigate legal and financial risks for improper disposal.
  • Waste type classification which should clearly identify who at your facility produces waste, as well as the type of waste that is produced.
  • A comprehensive waste management plan that sets out standard operating procedures. A licensed waste disposal service should be hired to handle and dispose of bio hazardous and contaminated waste. 
  • Periodic assessments of the waste management system that identify the areas for improvement while controlling associated costs.

Segregation should take place as near as possible to where waste is generated, and the different types of waste should be maintained in the storage containers before and during transport by your waste management company.

Responsibilities of Waste Management Company

There are five essential services a qualified regulated medical waste disposal company should provide.

  1. State and federal regulations. This is a two-fold process. Your waste management company should monitor state and federal regulations with respect to medical waste processing, containment, labeling, storage, transportation, treatment, and disposal. It should also help you comply with these regulations through internal means such as test audits and evaluations. Any areas not in compliance are then assigned corrective actions.
  2. Compliance training. Staff should receive OSHA, HIPAA, and DOT compliance training based on the latest state and federal regulations. Education may include learning to avoid needle stick injuries, how to properly segregate waste, fire and electrical safety,  blood borne pathogen standards, and DOT packaging and shipping requirements for regulated medical waste.
  3. Proper transportation. It is the waste management company’s duty to properly transport, treat, and dispose of your facilities medical waste according to all state and federal compliance standards.
  4. Treatment and disposal. State-of-the-art equipment customed designed for medical waste that ensures safe and reliable treatment and disposal including incinerators as well as non-burn thermal technologies such as autoclaves and microwave units that generate significantly less air pollutants than incinerators.  
  5. Sterilization. All emptied waste containers should be rigorously sterilized after each and every use to prevent contamination.

Medical waste management is not a process to be taken lightly. Aside from violating state or federal regulations, improper disposal may cause serious health and environmental risks. Proper waste management minimizes these risk factors while fostering a safe and healthy work environment which, in turn, boosts staff performance and your facility’s profitability.

Appropriate planning and training for waste management helps you keep your facility running with an educated and happy staff—and satisfied, cared-for patients.    

Click to download medical waste handling guide

Topics: Medical 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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