Medical waste disposal should be cost-efficient; however, you are not alone if you feel you are paying through the nose for it. To make matters worse, many doctors are discovering inexplicable charges on their invoices.
Third-party medical-waste haulers, especially the industry giants come with a lot of legal paperwork. If you do not read it all thoroughly, you can end up being trapped into paying fees for services that have not been rendered.
If you feel there are suspicious variances in your invoices, the reasons given below could be the cause:
Long-Term Waste Management Contracts
A lot of large medical waste companies require you to sign a contract with a term length as long as 60 months. That’s because they do not want to give doctors, clinics, and hospitals the option to get out of the contract if they no longer require their services or if the waste management company ends up providing poor service.
Such contracts are based on a fixed monthly fee structure that would require you to pay a fee each month even if you have not used the service in a given month or if your waste management requirements fluctuate. If you try to get out of these contracts, this can lead to huge penalties and significant termination fees that can run into thousands of dollars.
Additionally, these companies can also add an automatic price increase, which can cause your expenses to rise exponentially during the term of the contract. A recent example of this is with $295 million class action suit against Stericycle in 2017. (For more information on contracts, please see our post 6 Things to Know About Medical Waste Contracts).
Charging for Empty Barrels
All medical businesses experience fluctuations with their waste volumes. However, large third party waste haulers are notorious for charging their customers for a specified quantity of containers of waste, whether they treat it or not. For example, if you have six barrels of waste but only four are filled on the pick-up day, some companies will still charge you for six barrels anyway.
Mid-Monthly Over-Allotment Invoice
You may experience the generation of more waste in a specific month. When these third party haulers come to pick up your waste and determine that there are additional barrels, a mid-monthly “over-allotment” invoice will be sent to you. This invoice will specify the additional amount of containers taken for disposal. Even though you should expect to be charged your regular contracted rate, the additional barrels can make your fee go up hundreds of dollars — even though the company does not lower its fees during the months where not all barrels are used.
Late Payment Fees
A single late payment can generate a late payment fee invoice. You may have to bear any cost that a third party hauler may incur when collecting the overdue payment, including expensive attorney fees, collection agency costs, court costs, and administrative costs. You can imagine how expensive all this would be. Plus, the company can suspend its services, leaving you high and dry with a load of waste barrels.
Such hidden fees can include fuel, energy, and government fees. These fees are quite common across the industry, so don’t be surprised if they pop up on your invoice.
Some companies also charge for packing and delivering supplies like DOT medical waste boxes, red bags, tape, and more.
Another common practice in the industry is to quote a very low monthly charge on the first page of the contract, which is followed by many pages that contain fine print that highlight the additional fees. These can include container surcharges, excess-waste fees, overweight fees, and stop fees, all of which can double or even triple your original fees.
So what can be done?
The good news is that a cost-effective and efficient way to get rid of medical waste safely is to do it in-house.
Our TE-5000 provides onsite waste management capabilities in a super-efficient and safe way. The technology converts medical waste like syringes, lancets, bloody bandages, bedding, cultures of infectious agents, pathological waste, and other types of medical waste into sterile trash that can be placed with your regular office garbage.
This solution is much more feasible, safer, cost-effective, and most importantly, greener, than the handling and transporting of medical waste by third party haulers.
For more information on our on-premise option, please see below.