One of the issues that the healthcare industry faces on a daily basis is workers’ safety. Healthcare has more cases of work injuries and illnesses and among any other sector within the private industry, even greater than manufacturing or construction. According to one study in the United States, when these incidents occur, medical facilities lose about $2 billion, just to shoulder workers’ compensation costs.
About Clinical Waste
Indeed, workers sustain certain injuries and/or go down with illnesses because of certain hazards that are apparent in hospitals, clinics, dental offices, nursing homes, laboratories, and other medical facilities. One of these hazards is medical or clinical waste. In a nutshell, improper handling of clinical waste can result in tragic and fatal consequences among healthcare workers. Hence, any medical facility should take measures in order to avoid such scenario from happening.
Basically, any waste material that is generated during diagnosis or treatment of individuals, or generated for use in medical research, is considered medical or clinical waste. Examples of such include, but are not limited to, bandages soaked in blood, used needles or any other medical sharps, discarded gloves and other instruments used for surgical procedures, and removed body parts such as organs and amputated limbs.
The Dangers of Wrong Medical Waste Disposal
These unwanted products coming from medical facilities are highly contagious and must be disposed properly. Mishandling them before, during, and after disposal poses a significant health and environmental problem. Patients who are already ill should not be subjected to further contamination that could worsen their overall health condition. Aside from patients, hospital workers, from doctors, nurses, to maintenance personnel, are highly at risk of getting infected due to mismanagement of medical waste.
As it is, medical waste contains blood-borne pathogens that, if transmitted through inhalation, ingestion, skin puncture, or any other route within the human body, could result in a patient or hospital worker to be exposed to a variety of diseases. When medical waste is improperly disposed, individuals may contract hepatitis B or C, HIV, viral hemorrhagic fevers, and other blood-borne diseases. These diseases are certainly not minor and could greatly affect any person’s health and life. In case any of these illnesses affect an individual, he or she would have to undergo series of treatment, which could not only affect him or her physically but financially and emotionally as well.
Because of the many types of diseases healthcare workers like physicians, nurses, and medical staff, it is very important for medical facilities to prioritize proper clinical waste management. Aside from government-mandated policies on waste disposal and management, healthcare industry employers should also impose their specific guidelines in order to curb spread of diseases.
Current Medical Waste Management Regulations
Employers, for the most part, must ensure that their workers perform their duties in a safe working environment. Thus, it is their responsibility to commit themselves in implementing certain medical waste management procedures in compliance with the prevailing federal and state regulations.
In terms of waste management, requirements include providing containers for medical waste storage and proper labeling of such containers like medical waste bags or bins. Medical facilities must also have a comprehensive plan or system in place not only for the safe disposal of waste, but also for incidents of contamination among health workers.
In summary, the observance of proper clinical waste management in hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities is a critical aspect of workers’ health and safety. Putting into mind proper handling of medical waste cuts down incidents of illnesses being sustained by health workers, which effectively reduces costs employers have to incur, can greatly prevent prevalence of accidents caused by improper waste management.
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