LEARNING OBJECTIVE: Identify medical waste sorting, packaging, handling, and disposal procedures.
Concern about potentially adverse effects of infectious waste on public health and the environment has gained widespread media attention. While scientific evidence shows that infectious waste is no greater threat to the environment or public health than residential solid waste, medical facilities are perceived to be a source of pollution. It is, therefore, imperative that a medical facility establish an effective plan for dealing with infectious waste. This plan should include the segregation, packing and handling, storage, transportation, treatment, and disposal of such debris. The management plan should establish recordkeeping systems and personnel training programs, and should incorporate the minimally acceptable management standards.
Infectious waste is liquid or solid waste containing pathogens in sufficient numbers and of sufficient virulence to cause infectious disease in susceptible hosts exposed to the waste. Several examples are:
TREATMENT AND DISPOSAL METHODS FOR INFECTIOUS WASTE
Several steps should be used in the treatment and disposal of infectious waste. These steps include the identification of waste; segregation, sorting, packaging, handling, transporting, and treating of waste; and, finally, disposal of the waste. The treatment and disposal methods shown in table 2–2 are the minimally acceptable standards.
Table 2–2.—Treatment and Disposal Methods for Infectious Waste
|Types of Infectious Waste||Methods of Treatment||Methods of Disposal|
|Microbiological||Steam sterilization1 Chemical disinfection2 Incineration3||Sanitary landfill|
|Pathological5||Incineration3 & 4 Cremation||Sanitary landfill Burial6|
|Bulk blood and other potentially infectious liquids||Gelatinization6||Sanitary sewer7 Sanitary landfill8|
|Sharps in sharps containers||Steam sterilization Incineration||Sanitary landfill Sanitary landfill|