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Reasons Why Proper Medical Waste Disposal Can Save Thousands of Lives

Every day healthcare facilities are dedicated to the society by providing diagnosis, treatment, and wellness for their patients. Along with their daily duties comes with hazardous components that referred to as medical waste.

Medical waste is a subset of waste produced at healthcare facilities such as clinics, hospitals, physician’s offices, blood banks, veterinary hospitals or clinics, medical laboratories or facilities, and dental clinics. Moreover, these medical waste could be contaminated with blood, body fluids, or perhaps, infectious materials that can cause fatal illnesses and is often called as regulated medical waste.

Also, hospital bins are the main source of dirt that gets produced over a certain period if not emptied from time to time. These bins contain thousands of bacteria that can affect the hygiene of the patients. Not only that, but they also contain bodily fluids such as blood and urine which will cause health problems for the patients and the medical staff as well.

With the booming industry of healthcare sector around the globe, proper medical waste disposal is essential for every healthcare facility not only to make the facilities clean but also to save human lives. Because medical waste can affect a person’s overall health condition if this waste is not properly disposed of.

Importance of a Proper Medical Waste Disposal

Below are the important reasons why proper medical waste disposal for healthcare facilities in North America:

  1. Medical Waste such as Hospital Bins Are Dangerous

The WHO (World Health Organization) determines medical waste in the following categories below:

  • Infectious – Bodily fluids such as blood, cultures, and a couple of infectious components used for research and laboratories that include animal waste. Also, bandages and disposable medical equipment from patients in the isolation room or facility
  • Pathological – Person’s tissue or contaminated animal carcasses
  • Sharps – Syringes, Needles, broken glass, or blades which could cause an injury to someone or can expose someone to infection
  • Chemicals – Disinfectants, solvents, batteries, or heavy metals from pieces of medical equipment, harmful mercury components from thermometers or fluorescents
  • Pharmaceuticals – Unused, expired, or contaminated medicines
  • Genotoxic – Teratogenic, carcinogenic, mutagenic particles that most often used for cancer treatment
  • Radioactive – medical diagnostic devices or materials such as radiotherapy materials
  • General – other trash or waste in a medical facility setting that isn’t hazardous

Risky to Medical Staff

Before a patient can be harmed to medical waste, medical staff would be the first victims of this. Sharps and other infectious components don’t go into a regular waste receptacle for a reason. These medical waste can easily harm those medical staff who picks up and transports general waste.

This put medical staffs and workers at risk of contracting harmful and deadliest diseases such as:

  • Hepatitis
  • Ebola
  • Syphilis
  • Malaria
  • HIV

Most of these diseases have life-long impacts which can affect the person’s everyday life and worst can even lead to death.

Higher Risk of the Community

The risk to the community is also at stake if medical waste is not properly disposed of. Generally, transported medical waste ends up in garbage landfills. It displays an immediate risk to those humans who live near the area. Moreover, it also leaches harmful components and particles into the air, land, and even water.

Many of these particles have a long life which can take hundreds even thousands of years to completely vanish. Since this waste also goes with other waste from the community, the level of contamination is evolving drastically.

Juno Ivy Richards: Juno, an environmental health advocate, discusses the impact of environmental factors on health, climate change, and sustainable living practices.