So, what exactly is sharps waste? All medical facilities need to be aware of how sharps waste disposal should be handled. On the one hand, the fines you pay for improper waste management are very high. On the other hand, you not only endanger the environment but medical staff and patients as well. Read on and learn more about what the medical industry considers sharps waste, and how it should be disposed of!
What type of medical waste is considered to be sharps waste?
What can be considered as sharps waste? Any kind of medical waste that can puncture or cut the skin, hence the term “sharps”. It should be noted that sharps waste can also be considered as biohazardous waste, meaning it can be harmful to humans and animals alike. It should come as no surprise that medical staff need to handle it very carefully. They can spread infections much more easily.
The most common types of sharps waste include:
- Hypothermic and blunted needles, syringes
- Broken and/or contaminated glass
- Microscope slides
- Disposable blades, scalpels, razors
What is the ideal method for handling sharps waste?
Since sharps waste is considered to be one of the most dangerous types of biohazardous medical waste, it needs to be placed in special containers immediately after use. Compared to traditional trash bags, the most important feature of sharps waste containers is they are puncture-proof. This way, no cut can occur through the walls of the containers.
This doesn’t mean that medical staff don’t need to be on their guard. Whenever handling biohazardous waste, staff need to wear the appropriate protective equipment, as even without their ability to puncture the skin, sharps waste can be contaminated by blood and other bodily fluids.
It is also vital to remember that you should never overfill sharps waste containers. If you try to force more waste into the container and push it down, you may not only injure but contaminate yourself. To avoid drastic scenarios like this, all sharps waste containers should be considered “full” when they are at about 75% capacity.
Also, remember to store sharps waste containers in a storage area that is far from any place used for the consumption of food and beverages.
What is considered to be the best way for sharps waste disposal?
So, now that you know what types of medical waste can be considered as sharps waste, how does this disposal occur?
If the disposal of sharps waste occurs off-site, a licensed medical waste disposal company will transport the waste away to landfills where it is usually destroyed through HTI (high-temperature incineration).
More modern methods include the on-site treatment of sharps waste. Apart from on-site incinerators, there are already more user-friendly and cost-effective machines that combine the advantages of autoclaves (high-pressure and high-temperature steam sterilization) with medical waste shredding. This enables all medical facilities to render their sharps waste into an unrecognizable, dry, sterile mass greatly reduced in volume, which can then be thrown away like regular trash.