18 February 2019
Consider Comprehensive Medical Waste Management
The start of a new year is an ideal time to examine your organization’s compliance efforts, including how your medical waste streams are managed. You should assess whether the volume and types of medical waste your facility generates changed over the past year, and become aware of regulatory updates, if any, that may affect your facility.
Most health care organizations rely on vendors for the disposal of their medical waste, and to some extent, for guidance on other compliance-related issues. From proper and efficient regulated medical waste and sharps disposal to managing drug waste, along with the various challenges posed by the disposal of controlled substances, an annual reassessment becomes all the more pressing.
Some health care leaders find themselves juggling multiple vendors which can reduce efficiency in an already complex regulatory landscape. Choosing one partner who can handle all of their medical waste needs allows an organization to more easily adjust to changes, internal and external, so they can focus on patient care and business growth.
Managing Regulatory Changes and Compliance
Waste management rules are complex and occasionally go through updates, often varying by state. To be confident you and your staff stay in compliance with regulatory changes, it’s critical to work with vendors who stay current with all relevant regulatory agencies.
For example, the EPA recently updated its rule on hazardous pharmaceutical waste management. The update makes nuanced changes of regulations for proper disposal of Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) pharmaceutical waste. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) also has rules that regulate disposal of pharmaceuticals that are controlled substances.
Additionally, the transport of all wastes that are considered hazardous materials is enforced by Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. And although not directly affected, the best compliance partner will know how staying compliant with the new EPA rule plays into compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard.
Medical Waste Service That Health Care Facilities Can Depend On
Medical waste cannot linger in an organization’s facility, and some states require it to be picked up within specific time frames. As such, it is critical that a waste management company is extremely consistent in its operations, regularly meeting pre-determined schedules—even in times of disaster or other unforeseen events.
In addition, the vendor should be flexible enough to accommodate increases in patient census and other changes. Detailed and accessible documentation is also important to clearly demonstrate when and how much waste was picked up and what happened to it after it left the facility.
Managing Medical Waste Compliance and Training
A reliable partner has resources for you to self-assess, organize and inform your overall organization to stay current and compliant in your medical waste efforts. When approaching your annual self-evaluation, your medical waste partner should be able to guide you through evaluations of your medical waste stream management and other compliance efforts.
Your medical waste management partner should be ready to supply up-to-date education and training, such as educational articles, online tutorials, onsite trainings, packets to share at staff meetings and so on to keep you up to date as changes occur.
Responsible health care organizational leaders strive to keep their patients, staff and communities safe as they balance staying on top of the challenges posed by myriad, sometimes changing, regulations. Having the right medical waste management partner can make the difference between safe, compliant waste disposal and an effort that regularly falls short. For more information on why Stericycle is the medical waste management partner of choice, click here.
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