Doctors are doing their rounds at the South Main Public Health Center in Utah. They attend to the patients, injecting them, and giving them tablets. After an injection to a patient, the nurse on duty discards the needle into a yellow container. She throws the gloves and cotton in a different container. A wider look at the hospital reveals a familiar sight: black, red, and yellow containers are all over the wards. For the ordinary person, this is probably nothing interesting, but the employees in the hospital know the impact such bins have.
Types of Healthcare Waste
The different types of bins you find in hospitals are crucial for waste segregation, usually in four categories comprising of general waste, infectious waste, radioactive waste, and hazardous waste. Office waste and paper are considered general medical waste and are not particularly hazardous. For infectious waste, contact may lead to infections. Examples are body parts, used bandages, swabs, and surgical waste.
When it comes to hazardous waste, the dangers of exposure are at a higher level because of their human infectious nature. Items in this group include solvents, sharps, and chemotherapy agents. Radioactive waste is in a class of its own because of its adverse effects on humans and the environment.
Disposing Waste Safely
The World Health Organization reports that there are 257 million hepatitis B patients. Of these, about 1.7 million got the virus through needle pricks. Student doctors or health workers are the most likely to contract these diseases because they not only have not yet mastered safe practices, but they often lack the requisite injury management knowledge. Owing to the tons of waste coming out of health facilities every day, there is a need for careful handling to prevent the spread of disease. A few approaches are recommended:
- Improved Waste Segregation
Any hospital that still mixes different types of waste is stuck in the past. Proper waste segregation is necessary for the safety of not only hospital workers handling the waste, but also hazardous waste collection Utah companies. The public is also at risk, albeit secondarily. Segregating the waste upon generation is effective in safeguarding health. Some ways to make sure this approach succeeds are signs, protective clothing, and designated bins.
- Sharps Handling
This type of waste comprises of invasive tools such as syringes and needles. They present an immediate and serious hazard to the handlers, so they must be handled appropriately. Strong containers are crucial for hospitals as they help store such waste safely before disposal. A system that enables the workers to account for this waste from the point of generation onwards should be available.
- Waste Reduction
Although hospitals in Utah produce less waste compared to less developed areas, there is room for reduction of hazardous waste through reduction of waste in general. A system that insists on reusing products would be excellent. The proportion of hazardous materials can be reduced by switching to modern technology and eliminating mercury-based ones.
- Worker Training
The mishandling of medical waste by workers can only be attributed to poor training and enforcement of existing guidelines. Every worker in the medical facility should be trained about the risks of various types of waste. They should be provided with the necessary protective support.
The World Health Organization is continuously urging hospitals globally to seek ways of minimizing pollution caused by their waste. Alternative technology seems to be the best answer. As scientists research and develop relevant solutions, it is important for facilities to minimize hazardous and other forms of waste in their small ways.