Consumer Advocacy

9 Ways to Reduce Your Medical Waste

If you’re not careful, your medical waste disposal costs can really start to stack up. Here’s how to keep costs under control while staying compliant.

The simple answer to reducing your medical waste disposal costs? Reduce your waste volume. You can do this by familiarizing yourself with existing regulations and implementing proper systems and routines.

Follow these nine tips to avoid the common trap of generating excessive medical waste (and overspending in the process).

1. Develop a formal waste disposal management plan.

Your written waste management plan is the cornerstone of your company’s medical waste disposal process. Companies that eliminate confusion by following formal plans are much more likely to keep costs low, while companies that rely on their employees’ prior knowledge tend to rack up unnecessary costs.

Your plan should spell out your company’s procedures for managing regulated medical waste in as specific terms as possible. For example, specify when potentially confusing items, such as tongue depressors or the plastic packaging that supplies arrive in, are not considered medical waste.

2. Provide thorough, consistent employee training.

Just as important as maintaining a well-written, up-to-date plan is investing time and energy into training your employees — new and current employees alike. Set aside time to help them review the plan, measure their knowledge and ask questions. Make sure to emphasize your reasoning behind each part of the plan. Associate costs to policies to illustrate the impact of these rules. Need help? US Bio-Clean provides a full suite of compliance training from local experts.

3. Know Arizona medical waste regulations.

It’s important to understand Arizona state regulations so you can properly distinguish between what is considered regulated medical waste and what is not. There are many potential points of confusion within state-specific regulations that could be costing your company money, such as the fact that some soiled linens may be considered medical waste, while others may not.

4. Restrict access whenever possible.

As much as possible, avoid placing medical waste containers in patient-accessible areas. If there’s no way around it, provide a small container for medical waste and a larger one for regular waste.

5. Maintain physical separation between different waste bins.

You can significantly reduce human error by placing your red bag waste container away from your solid waste collection bin. This may seem like a simple step, but it can have a large impact on your bottom line.

6. Color-code containers to help ensure appropriate sorting.

Just as placing containers deliberately can make a difference, so can color-coding your waste bins. For example, it’s common to use red containers for red bag waste and yellow containers for chemotherapy waste.

7. Post strategic signage.

Visual cues can be powerful. Place signs throughout the facility that indicate the types of waste that can be placed into each container to help staff and patients understand your policies and remind them to make the right choices. Small reminders like these can go a long way when it comes to reducing medical disposal costs.

8. Keep an eye on pharmaceuticals and chemotherapy agents.

The proper segregation of different medical waste materials is key. Stress the importance of not placing unused pharmaceuticals or bulk or trace chemotherapy waste in red bag waste containers. These items should be separated for proper treatment.

9. Conduct waste audits.

Along with updating your written plan at least once a year, periodic audits of your medical waste disposal process are vital to maintaining compliance and keeping costs in check. Conduct regular audits to ensure that your company’s medical waste is being disposed of correctly. Share your findings with employees and be prepared to provide re-training, if necessary.

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