Presently, the term medical and potentially infectious waste has taken on a much more serious meaning. In the face of a pandemic, methods for properly disposing of COVID-19 medical waste simply can’t be ignored. Sadly, millions of people are being affected by this virus, and over 157,000 people in the US alone have lost their lives to this highly contagious disease. Furthermore, an increasing number of testing sites, mask mandates, and the absence of a viable vaccine mean we could all benefit from a few tips on how to dispose of COVID-19 medical waste safely and effectively.
In general, COVID-19 medical waste and its correct removal are on everyone’s minds these days, especially in the healthcare sector. That said, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued guidelines early on. The good news here is that, for the most part, COVID-19 medical waste is no different from your standard hazardous or infectious healthcare waste. As a result, hospitals, physicians/preventive care offices, urgent care clinics, and drive-thru testing sites should follow routine bio-waste methods and procedures. This basically means healthcare organizations should provide no-touch receptacles, use disposable noncritical patient care equipment, and properly dispose of/disinfect any personal protection equipment (PPE). Moreover, the CDC recommends that the appropriate measures are taken to prevent wastewater contamination.
Likewise, family medicine clinics and nursing homes should use extreme caution when disposing of COVID-19 medical waste. For all these particular healthcare organizations, it’s also strongly recommended that an experienced and reliable medical waste removal company is consulted or hired to handle COVID-19 medical waste management. Larger health institutions generally partner with regulated medical waste removal professionals to assist in onsite disposal. However, smaller organizations, like family medicine clinics, tend to have their waste collected/transported via mail or by truck services. If you’re looking for onsite regulated waste removal or general guidance as the pandemic rages on, then a local MedPro Disposal management team member should be able to get your organization squared away.
Labs, Dialysis Centers, and Other Facilities
Here, the CDC has recommended that COVID-19 laboratory waste be handled in a similar fashion that other respiratory pathogens are processed. However, there’s a separate set of suggestions for the removal of medical waste that was collected postmortem (to determine if the death was, in fact, due to COVID-19). Consequently, it’s strongly advised that you do your research if you’re dealing with the latter. Other useful tips here include taking inventory of all your containers and biohazard bags onsite. All receptacles should be leakproof to avoid any spillage. While you’re checking out your containers and disposal equipment, you should determine if you have an autoclave readily available. If your organization is in possession of an autoclaving machine, inspect it to ensure that it’s working properly. Similarly, dialysis centers and other facilities should provide no-touch receptacles, dispose of gowns or provide disposable ones, and follow the CDC’s Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations.
Workplace and Office Setting
Concerning workplace and office settings, any COVID-19 medical waste that’s generated needs to be handled with care. This means disinfecting all receptacles, clearing public spaces of discarded gloves or masks, and providing adequate training to all cleaning personnel. Furthermore, if your place of employment has access to biohazard bags, use them to ensure that any possible contaminated PPE isn’t discarded with the regular trash.
Home and Schools
Clearly, it may be challenging to obtain the proper medical waste disposal equipment and supplies in these particular instances. Consequently, if possible, make sure trash bins are lined, use gloves, and disinfect used masks and tissues before throwing them into a regular garbage bin. You may want to consider reaching out to your local health and sanitation department for additional guidance.
For individuals that are sick and quarantined at home, consider utilizing regulated medical waste disposal mail-back service in an area. Having known infectious medical trash handled by professionals is the safest way to ensure that your family, neighbors, pets, and wildlife aren’t accidentally exposed to discarded bio-waste that ended up in your regular trash receptacle. Therefore, if you need assistance with at-home waste disposal or are interested in learning more about regulated medical waste removal mail-back programs specifically for COVID-19 near you, go online or contact your local MedPro disposal management professionals.
Public Spaces and Venues
Similar practices should be implemented when in public spaces and venues. The CDC is still advising that restaurants have outdoor seating and limit the number of people inside at any given moment in time. Moreover, masks are to be worn by staff, and guests are required to wear PPE when they aren’t eating or drinking. Plus, hand sanitizer, disposable menus, and no-touch receptacles in the restrooms are all provided. Thus, any possible COVID-19 medical waste like discarded masks, gloves, used napkins, or menus should ideally be disinfected and disposed of in the trash or a biohazard bag if available.
Airports, Travel, and Other Forms of Transit
The same is true for airports, planes, hotels, and other methods of travel. Clearly, without instant testing and results, you can’t identify COVID-19 medical waste just by looking for it. Thus, caution and general medical waste disposal procedures should be implemented when dealing with any used items. Lastly, other forms of public transit like trains, buses, and ride-sharing are being held to comparable standards and regulations. Note that there are specific CDC guidelines for hotels and other accommodations.
With that being said, you should still check out the EPA’s approved list for disinfectants and follow CDC guidelines whenever possible. This may be the only way Americans can attempt to slow down the spread of this disease. Ultimately, navigating the new normal, for many people, is a struggle. However, with extra precautions and proper handling of potentially infectious COVID-19 medical waste, there may just be a light at the end of the tunnel.