Alternatives for Treatment and Disposal Cost Reduction of Regulated Medical Waste

Alternatives for Treatment and Disposal Cost Reduction of Regulated Medical Waste

Sobiya Gul (SKUAST-K, India), Tasaduq Hussain Shah (SKUAST-K, India) and Hafsa Javeed (SKUAST-K, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9452-9.ch011
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The link between human health and environmental quality is made clearer; the commitment to safeguarding the natural environment is growing in major institutions as the health care industry. New and greater opportunities will open up to reinforce our primary institutional mission-that of caring for the health needs of the community we serve, which include caring for the environment. Developing and implementing effective programs to reduce, recycle and minimize the toxicity of hospital generated wastes (even wastes generated in the care and treatment of patients can be reduced) is one of the most significant environmental challenges the health care industry faces. Hospitals generate one of the most diverse and difficult to manage waste. The amount of medical waste produced by hospitals may vary due to a number of factors, including the hospital type and size, occupancy rate, in- and outpatient ratio, geographic location, state and local waste handling regulations, and hospital waste disposal policies.
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It is important to point out that the term ‘medical waste’ has often been used interchangeably with other terms such as ‘hospital waste’ and ‘infectious waste’ around the world. Hospital waste is a broader definition and refers to all wastes generated by hospitals including infectious and noninfectious waste materials, hazardous wastes and chemicals, and other non-hazardous wastes. Medical waste is often considered to be a subcategory of hospital waste and indicates ‘potentially’ infectious waste that is produced from healthcare facilities (Klangsin & Harding, 1998; Levendis, et al., 2001). Medical waste refers to any potentially infectious wastes that are generated in the diagnosis, treatment, examination, or research by general hospitals, clinics, veterinary, and research centres. It is defined in Section 3 of the Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988 as “any solid waste that is generated in the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals, in research pertaining thereto, or in the production or testing of biological.

A medical waste generator is typically a person or business involved in the following activities: the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals, research pertaining to the aforementioned activities, and the production and testing of biological agents. The following are examples of businesses considered to be generators of medical waste: clinics and hospitals, medical and dental buildings/offices, surgery centres, laboratories/research laboratories, unlicensed and licensed health facilities, chronic dialysis clinics, education and research facilities, veterinary offices, and trauma scene waste management practitioners.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Other Potentially Infectious Materials (OPIM): The following human body fluids: semen, vaginal secretions, cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid, pleural fluid, pericardial fluid, peritoneal fluid, amniotic fluid, saliva in dental procedures, any body fluid that is visibly contaminated with blood, and all body fluids in situations where it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between body fluids.

Irradiation: The use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy) or from materials called radioisotopes.

Incineration: Incineration is a waste treatment process that involves the combustion of organic substances contained in waste materials.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an independent agency of the United States federal government for environmental protection.

Gas Sterilization: Sterilization by means of a bactericidal gas, frequently used for items that are heat and moisture sensitive.

Radio Waves: Radio waves are a type of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum longer than infrared light. Radio waves have frequencies as high as 300 gigahertz (GHz) to as low as 30 hertz (Hz).

Thermal Radiation: Also known as heat, is the emission of electromagnetic waves from all matter that has a temperature greater than absolute zero. It represents the conversion of thermal energy into electromagnetic energy.

Regulated Medical Waste: Regulated medical waste (RMW), also known as 'biohazardous' waste or 'infectious medical' waste, is the portion of the waste stream that may be contaminated by blood, body fluids or other potentially infectious materials, thus posing a significant risk of transmitting infection.

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