Waste at the hospital is categorized according to the hazard such that it can be appropriately treated after it leaves the hospital. Following is a list of the various categories of a waste that the hospital generates, and how each category should be appropriately disposed.
Biohazardous Waste (Bloody or Infectious)
Waste contaminated with recognizable human blood, fluid human blood, fluid blood products, other body fluids that may be infectious, and containers or equipment containing fluid blood or infectious fluids.
Sharps including hypodermic needles, hypodermic needles with attached syringes, needles with attached tubing, blades, broken glass, acupuncture needles, and pipettes.
There are two main types of sharps containers in the Health System:
Pharmaceutical waste and hazardous pharmaceutical waste are produced from most patient care and clinical support areas.
Pharmaceutical Waste: includes, but is not limited to unused, partially used or expired prescription or over-the-counter medications (e.g. vials, tablets, capsules, powders, liquids, creams/ lotions, eye drops, suppositories), IV bags and tubing, full syringes, glass vials and ampules, narcotics and controlled substances in syringes, narcotic patches (cut in half), carpujets, and tubexes. Pharmaceutical waste should be placed in the blue sharps containers. The contents are incinerated and the ash goes to a non-hazardous landfill.
Hazardous Pharmaceutical Waste: includes, but is not limited to, syringes, inhalers, tubexes or IV bags/piggybacks with residual hazardous pharmaceuticals (i.e.: all cytotoxic drugs). Hazardous Pharmaceutical waste shall be placed in the black containers. The contents are incinerated and the ash goes to a hazardous waste lined landfill.
Chemotherapeutic waste is a product of oncology patient care activities. It’s generated from and managed by dedicated inpatient units, outpatient clinics and Pharmacy.
Chemo waste consists of materials which previously contained or had contact with chemotherapeutic agents including tubing, empty bags, bottles, vials, syringes, gloves, masks, gowns and wipes. In addition, any materials used to clean up spills or otherwise contaminated through incidental contact.
Trace Chemotherapeutic Waste: Containers which previously held chemo agents are considered empty if (1) the liquid residue can no longer be poured or, (2) the solid material can no longer be removed by scraping. Trace chemo waste should be placed in the yellow containers. The contents are incinerated and the ash goes to a non-hazardous landfill.
Bulk Chemotherapeutic Waste: Unused or bulk chemo waste is returned to the Pharmacy. EVS collects the bulk chemo waste and it is processed separately from trace chemo waste for disposal as hazardous pharmaceutical waste. The contents are incinerated and the ash goes to a hazardous waste lined landfill.
Hazardous Chemicals, Mixed with
Medical waste mixed with hazardous chemicals is generated primarily in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine areas from activities associated with tissue fixing and preservation. The chemicals are usually solvents such as alcohol and xylenes, or formalin.
This waste is maintained within and under the control of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Once designated as waste, it is segregated and stored in a specified, posted area. All containers are labeled accordingly.
Before this type of medical waste is disposed, the chemical is decanted off by a licensed hazardous waste contractor. The pathology waste and chemical waste are incinerated separately.
Radioactive Materials, Contaminated with
Medical waste contaminated with radioactive materials may be generated from any patient care area, originating from patients who recently underwent nuclear medicine procedures, either in- or outpatient.
This type of mixed waste is usually in the form of excrement or materials which have had contact with excrement, from these patients. It is identified as waste when (1) initially generated or (2) when passed through a radiation detector.
Other radioactive waste is generated in Nuclear Medicine and is properly disposed of through Campus Radiation Safety.
Either way, radioactive medical waste is segregated and stored in a placed in a designated, secure area and monitored until the activity level drops below threshold, at which point the waste re-enters the medical waste stream.
Waste contaminated with the excretion or secretion from patients isolated with highly communicable diseases. Waste of this type is rarely generated. In this case, Infection Prevention and BioSafety would be consulted to provide direction.