30 April 2018

Happy Nurse’s Week: Nursing Staff’s Role in Compliance

Every year from May 6-May 12, the American Nurses Association (ANA) sponsors National Nurse’s Week to recognize, celebrate and offer continuous education for the dedicated nurses who play a critical role in delivering quality, safe and compassionate patient care.

ANA’s tagline for the week is “Nurses inspire, innovate, influence.” This mantra can be applied to almost every aspect of a nurse’s job. Take medical waste disposal, for instance. In addition to countless patient care responsibilities occurring behind the scenes, nurses are the primary healthcare workers discarding medical waste, and how they approach this task in their daily workflow can influence and inspire their colleagues. On any given day, you can see nurses disposing of medical waste after delivering injections to patients, bandaging wounds, administering medications and so on. In fact, your organization’s overall regulatory compliance heavily depends on whether your nurses consistently and correctly follow the rules—starting with how well informed they are.

Set Nurses Up for Success in Your Organization

Because of the key role nurses play, organizations should spend time ensuring these pivotal staff members are fully up-to-speed on medical waste management regulations and can apply the standards in their daily practice. Here are three strategies to ensure your nurses are set up for success.

Implement a Comprehensive Medical Waste Management Program

This should include detailed policies that outline the requirements and how staff members can meet them. Easily-accessible receptacles that are designed to safely handle distinct types of medical waste and strategically placed are also key. The idea is to make it easy for nurses and other staff members to follow the right procedure each and every time.

Provide Ongoing Staff Training and Education

Although this can take many forms, one of the most convenient forms of ongoing education is through online compliance training tools that nurses can access anytime from anywhere, allowing them to incorporate training into their busy schedules. These web-based programs should be user-friendly, include all the relevant information and document when training is complete for regulatory purposes.

Engage in Periodic Compliance Auditing

It’s also important to check that your nurses are following waste management protocols even when day-to-day tasks pull them in numerous different directions. Frequently observing nurses and other staff can help spot compliance shortfalls and uncover opportunities for improvement.

Nurses play a vital role in all healthcare organizations—from patient care delivery to overall compliance. Arming them with the right training, support and information is key. Discover how Stericycle can help your organization establish and maintain a comprehensive medical waste management program, including regulatory compliance, implementing training and using the appropriate receptacles.

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