In the healthcare world, the spotlight often shines on life-saving treatments, cutting-edge technologies, and the efforts of healthcare professionals. Yet, behind the scenes is a budget-draining menace often ignored. You might not have guessed it, but we are referring to the cost of medical waste disposal.
While often overlooked, this topic carries substantial implications for the financial health of a healthcare facility. Are you aware of the dollars slipping away with each discarded syringe or contaminated bandage?
Let’s explore the cost of medical waste disposal. We will also see some terminologies like biohazardous waste, biohazard waste disposal, biohazard waste disposal services, etc. This blog will also guide you through some practices to reduce medical waste volume.
What is Meant by Medical Waste
Before we jump in, let’s understand what regulated medical waste is. Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) is also referred to by various terms such as “infectious medical waste” or “red bag waste. They are the portion of the waste stream containing blood, body fluids, or other hazardous and infectious materials. It includes any contaminated materials generated during healthcare practices.
Different categories of medical waste require specific disposal requirements. These include infectious, hazardous, radioactive, and general medical waste.
Some Major Insights:
Understanding the multitude of factors associated with medical waste is crucial due to its inherently hazardous nature.
Here’s a brief overview:
Biohazardous wastes or infectious wastes contain infectious particles that can cause hazards to the public and the environment. These wastes include blood, body fluids, human cell lines, etc.
Furthermore, these wastes are a subtype of medical waste. While these wastes include mainly their biological counterparts, medical wastes include sharp objects and biohazardous waste.
Biohazardous wastes include:
- Sharp objects suspected to be contaminated by infectious agents.
- Dry wastes like contaminated cultures, culture flasks, paper towels, bacterial and viral waste, etc.
- Liquid wastes like animal and human blood, blood elements, bodily fluids, etc.
- Anatomical specimens of humans
- Animal body parts if exposed to hazardous materials.
Biohazard Waste Disposal
Biohazard waste disposal requires extra attention. Collect in leak-proof and rigid containers. Additionally, label the containers with biohazard symbols. For transportation, tightly close the container and seal it properly. It is better to place them in a leak-proof container. Biohazardous materials are dangerous for humans and the environment. Therefore, take extra precautions to contain them, especially while transporting.
Biohazard Waste Disposal Services
Biohazard waste disposal services are pivotal in maintaining public health and safety. They are significant for several reasons. First, they can carry these wastes effectively, as biohazard wastes are potentially dangerous to the environment.
Additionally, stringent regulations and guidelines govern the handling and disposal of biohazard waste. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in legal repercussions and fines for healthcare facilities and organizations. Therefore, contacting a reliable waste disposal service can offer you good grounds.
Waste Management Contracts versus Waste Management Service Agreements
Understanding whether to opt for waste management contracts or agreements is crucial in assessing the cost of medical waste disposal.
Waste management contracts usually last several years and set a monthly charge rate. It encompasses a fixed rate, whatever your disposal volume is.
On the other hand, if you opt for service agreements, you will have to pay for only the volume generated of medical waste. So, in certain months, the cost of medical waste disposal can be less compared to other months, depending on the waste volume.
Most hospital settings prefer paying per box as it is more economical than monthly payments.
What Are the Different Factors that Affect the Cost of Medical Waste Disposal
There are a variety of factors affecting the cost of medical waste disposal:
Rural vs Metropolitan
The cost of disposing of red bag waste varies depending on location. It is generally cheaper in urban areas than in rural areas.
For instance, individuals or facilities in Atlanta can expect to pay a lower price per box of red bag waste than those in rural areas of Georgia or Mississippi, where the cost may be at a premium.
Volume of medical waste disposal
Another major factor contributing to the cost of medical waste disposal is the volume of waste generated. Look for special deals and discounts by waste disposal services for optimal prices.
Frequency of medical waste disposal
The frequency of required pickups is a significant factor in determining your waste management costs. Those people in need of more frequent pickups typically receive more favorable rates compared to those who require this service less often.
This aspect is close to transportation expenses. When a company schedules regular pickups, say ten boxes, compared to just one, it helps distribute the costs for each pickup.
Types of generated wastes
The type of waste generated can affect the cost of medical waste disposal.
For instance, pharmaceutical wastes can be non-hazardous or hazardous. Therefore, waste disposal companies prefer shipping it as hazardous waste to maintain safety. Nevertheless, it ought to be on the list of hazardous waste manifest, which may result in a slight increase in the cost of waste disposal.
Did you know that there is a regulation process for pharmaceutical products before they reach the hands of customers? Like its regulation before usage, they need regulated disposals as well.
Some waste needs incineration, like trace chemotherapy and pathological wastes. The incineration process requires a higher cost than red bag disposal.
Cost of Medical Waste Disposal
Several factors affect the cost of medical waste disposal, such as location and volume of waste disposal. However, you can get a general insight into the overall cost, which varies according to the type of service utilized.
People usually pay around $200 to 400 monthly if they opt for a contract service.
On the other hand, service agreements have a different cost range. They charge around $100 per month.
The location has a paramount impact on the cost of medical waste disposal. For instance, a medical facility will pay around $20-$45 per box, while one living in a rural location will pay between $75 to $200 per box.
In addition, the frequency of picking red bags is also a factor for cost. Although it depends on the volume, monthly pickups are less costly than weekly ones.
Some Methods to Reduce Medical Waste Volume
Place RMW containers near the point of waste generation
If the container is easily accessible, it will increase the generated volume. People will use it for general purposes as well. The wrong location of the container will impact the segregation of wastes and raise the overall cost of waste disposal.
So, place the container near the point of generation and label them well.
Choose a clinically distinguished container
People often tend to throw extra garbage in a regular wide-open container. Therefore, choosing a specialized container provides a practical solution to the issue of overfilling regular, open containers. If someone sees a can thrown on such containers, they would add another one. It becomes hard to segregate and increases the cost of medical waste disposal. Therefore, using a clinical bin, different than casual ones, and properly labeling them plays the game.
Opt for reusable options
The majority of the wastes in the RMW are single-use plastic wastes. Purchasing single-use products and then paying for their disposal is an unreliable option. Instead, switch to reusable alternatives. Using reusable products reduces your tension for reordering the products, at least for some time.
The biggest issue for the cost of medical waste disposal is the reduced awareness of the difference between RMW and ordinary waste. Educating them well will prove a significant step towards proper waste segregation and reduce the overall expense of medical waste disposal.
Implement a facility-wide recycling program.
Numerous items within a medical facility hold the potential for recycling. To ensure responsible resource management, your facility must incorporate a comprehensive recycling strategy within its overarching waste management plan. Additionally, they should focus on identifying and prioritizing critical recyclable items.
To conclude, the cost of medical waste disposal depends on many factors. The locality, volume of waste generated, and frequency of generation are different contributing factors affecting the disposal costs. However, with practical strategies, you can conveniently reduce the overall costs.
Proper medical waste disposal is a big financial concern for healthcare facilities. It is often overlooked but is a profound economic issue. Healthcare facilities must assess their current waste disposal practices, identify areas for improvement, and take proactive steps to reduce costs.
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