Why there is a need for medical waste management in hospitals
There are many different reasons why medical waste must be properly managed. Injuries from sharps can lead to infections to hospital personnel and waste handlers. Infections can be spread to the outside environment through the waste handlers who have been exposed to hazardous sharps. There are also risks associated with the chemical content of medical waste and drugs that can compromise the health of persons who are handling these waste products at all levels. Disposables like syringes can be repacked and sold by unscrupulous individuals. Even drugs that have reached expiration dates can be sold for a profit. Instead of risking air, water and soil pollution when medical waste is buried, medical waste incinerator provides a more environmentally friendly option.
Best practices in medical waste management
Segregation is the key to an effective management of medical waste. Segregation should be as close as possible to the source and must be secured properly by the nurse or attendant to prevent secondary sorting. The generation of waste must also be reduced to a minimum but this can only be achieved if all hospital personnel are serious enough and responsible enough in ensuring that the volume of waste is effectively controlled. An option to control the amount of medical waste generated is a close scrutiny of disposables whether they are actually necessary. Certain disposables like scissors, scalpels and forceps as well as disposable containers can be replaced with reusable products that can be cleaned and sterilized. A designated storage space for hazardous medical waste must be established with only authorized personnel allowed access.
The process of medical waste incineration
Incineration is an important process in medical waste disposal particularly contaminated sharps and biologically hazardous materials. In the medical waste incinerator, high temperature from 850oC to 1100oC in dry oxidation process will reduce organic waste and contaminated waste products to inorganic matter than has a significant reduction in volume and weight. The incineration process must be carried out in an appropriate plant that is designed to cope with the specific characteristics of the hazardous content of medical waste. This includes the presence of water and fluids as well as plastics from which most of the disposables are made from. Considering that a medical waste incinerator is sophisticated technology, only hazardous medical waste must be burned in the plants. This is the reason why proper segregation is suggested in the management of medical waste. Many hospitals are only equipped with on-site medical waste incinerator with a capacity of 1 tonne a day.