Medical Waste Management at Transfusion Centers

Transfusion clinics usually have more homogeneous waste than a hospital, or even a medical practice, but the medical waste can still pose risks and it must be managed responsibly.

Few transfusion clinics employ radiation so there is usually no radioactive waste. But the other types of waste that we discuss on this site are present.

Sharps - needles, lancets, and anything else that can readily pierce the skin. They can be dangerous - both in producing wounds and transmitting disease - and all nurses and medical personnel are trained to be careful with sharps. Sharps should be immediately put in containers when they become waste. See our page on sharps management.

Hazardous waste - it is possible that a transfusion clinic will produce hazardous waste. “Hazardous waste” has a formal legal definition and if you generate it on a regular basis, you may need a permit. At the least you will have to conform to storage requirements. See our page on hazardous waste to figure out if your waste meets the definition for hazardous waste.

Infectious/Biomedical waste - clinics produce this type of waste on a regular basis and you must have a plan to keep your patients, staff, and the general public safe. You don’t want to risk transmission of disease from errant release of this waste. Subcategories of biomedical waste include bloodborne waste (regulated waste under OSHA) and pathological waste.

General waste - non-hazardous, non-biological waste of the sort produced at every business - paper, packaging, plastic waste, etc - is called municipal solid waste. It is substantially less of a headache and much cheaper to dispose of than the other waste described here. The most important action for this waste is segregation. Make sure you keep this waste separate from hazardous and biomedical waste. If there is no contamination, MSW can be disposed of in an outdoor dumpster of the sort commonly found in office complexes. You have to pay to have it hauled away and taken to a landfill.

On-site Treatment

Most transfusion clinics probably don’t want to institute a treatment process but measures to limit excessive threats may be required. In the case of liquid waste, mixing with a liquid disinfectant can eliminate most of the infection risk.

Collection and Storage

A simple three bin segregation system (sharps, infectious waste and municipal solid (general) waste) is a first step that should be easy to implement and that reduces the most important risks. More complex collection and segregation schemes can be instituted if the situation warrants.

Waste must be stored so patients and staff do not come into casual contact with it and so that the waste disposal company can easily remove it. See our page on storage options.

Plans and Documentation

Every center should have a waste management plan and an emergency plan.

It costs money and effort to properly manage waste, but the costs associated with poor waste management can be larger. Liability costs can be large, and if you cut corners and get found out, the additional costs for permitting and disposal will probably be even higher than they would have been if you had done it right the first time. State regulatory agencies can levy fines. Your organization’s image with the public and even with your own employees will suffer.