The Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988 defines medical waste as "any solid waste that is generated in the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals, in research pertaining thereto, or in the production or testing of biologicals." Medical waste can be classified into four different categories: infectious, hazardous, radioactive, and general.
An alternative classification scheme comes from The World Health Organization. The WHO classifies medical waste into:
About household medical waste.
Pathological waste is included in the above categories, but is designated separately because of the potential psychological impact on observers. It consists of recognizable tissues, organs, and body parts derived from animals and humans. If you can tell the waste came from a living organism, it is pathological waste:. Material removed from the body in surgery and fluids and solids removed in autopsies is pathological waste, with the exception of teeth. More on pathological waste.
In the United Kingdom the term clinical waste is used. The UK’s Controlled Waste Regulations (1992) defines clinical waste as having some human or animal tissue, used swabs or dressings, pharmaceutical products, blood or bodily fluids, or syringes, needles or other sharps.
In the US the term regulated waste is used in healthcare contexts mostly to refer to worker safety standards and procedures. OSHA promulgated rules for dealing for dealing with bodily fluids called the Bloodborne Pathogens standard. It refers to regulated waste as blood or "other potentially infectious materials" (OPIM) and items contaminated with these materials as well as pathological and microbiological wastes containing blood or OPIM. (Feminine hygiene products do not count as regulated waste, and OSHA has ruled that bandages that are not saturated to the point of releasing fluid if compressed don’t count either.)
OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard requires that healthcare facilities dealing with regulated waste have an Exposure Control Plan to protect workers and minimize the chances of transmission of hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and HIV. The plan is supposed to specify which employees have routine contact with blood and blood products and what to do after an exposure.
OSHA also requires that regulated waste be put in closable containers and that if there is any chance of leaks from those containers, that a second container be employed.
PDF summary of types (one page)