Many hospitals and healthcare facilities have the resources to carry out internal Medical Waste Disposal and treatment. If the environment is sufficiently sterile; the treated waste can generally end up in a sanitary landfill with other general waste. In the past, hospitals had dedicated medical waste facilities for on-site decontamination. Today though, most medical centers hire contractors to collect, treat, and dispose of medical waste. There are professional waste collection teams that are available to collect and correctly dispose of any medical waste. Here is a quick overview of the main medical waste treatment and disposal methods that are approved by regulation.
One disposal method is that of Autoclaving, this is when sharps and certain other types of infectious waste go through thermal treatment. An autoclave is really like a large pressure cooker that effectively uses steam and high temperatures to kill off any microorganisms. Depending on the need of the facility and also depending on the turnover of waste that is produced will determine the size of the autoclave that is needed and there are various sizes available. Automated autoclaves lower the level of risk too as they require minimum human involvement also reducing the risk of contamination and needle-stick injuries. Decontaminated sharps and other medical waste that’s been autoclaved is then transferred to a medical waste removal vendor. It is then disposed of as non-infectious waste.
Another disposal method is chemical treatment, this works by decontaminating or deactivating certain wastes on site. Often used to deactivate liquid waste, it saves the medical facility of the hassle of packaging and sending this medical waste to a separate facility. Liquids are highly likely to spill if not correctly contained and because of this their treatment usually takes place as close to the generation site as possible. Regulation recommends chemicals like chlorine, sodium hydroxide or calcium oxide for the treatment, depending on the type of waste. It is reasonable to assume that only knowledgeable staff should execute chemical treatment as it requires maximum care. If your facility is not comfortable with on-site chemical treatment, there is an alternative. You can use solidifying agents to turn liquids into solids, then direct them to a medical waste removal service for disposal. Most professional disposal companies will offer this service.
A final method used for medical waste disposal is a microwave treatment system. This is similar to an autoclave, in the way that it also decontaminates medical waste through the use of heat. The design of these systems allows them to treat waste that is not 100% dry or solid. The moisture allows deeper penetration through heat while the steam sterilizes. Most types of medical waste need to be shredded and mixed with water to achieve the desired effect before microwave treatment.
All methods described here are effective in their ways and are all regulated for proper and correct medical waste disposal. It is imperative that all disposal methods are used correctly and if this is not possible on site then always use the services of a professional disposal company.