Managing Medical Waste Across Multiple Locations

02/4/20 01:29 PM

Liabilities and risks already run high when dealing with medical waste. They multiply when a company becomes a group and manages multiple locations. Why? Because the number of variables increases and the risk of human error rises.

The truth is, traditional ways of handling medical waste involve a lot of steps; from handlers within medical offices all the way to third party haulers. Depending on how remote a medical office is or the amount of volume a location handles, frustrating problems are sure to arise.


Most medical practices handle medical waste handling in similar ways, which include the following aspects:

Collection: The collection can be handled by nurses, clinical staff, and the janitorial/ maintenance staff. The physical collection of the waste generated at a given medical facility can be either quite simple OR troublesome to move around when unexpected volumes accumulate before a medical waste pick-up. When the latter happens, this can negatively impact or put a burden on the nurses, doctors, and local maintenance staff.  Facilities often deal with the issue of staff haphazardly sorting regular trash vs. medical waste.

Storage:  Medical waste storage regulations vary from state to state. Most, however, require that facilities store waste in a locked container- away from the general public. Just like the collection part of the medical waste disposal process, the storage can be handled by nurses, clinical staff, and janitorial/ maintenance staff. A big issue with storage for many facilities is the lack of office space, which can be problematic when there is a surplus of medical waste awaiting pick-up from a third-party hauler. In some cases, facilities are forced to store medical waste in a freezer until a scheduled pick-up date comes around. Freezers require thawing and cleaning every few months, which adds on to the on-site staff workloads. In some states, facilities may be allowed to store medical waste in an outside cabinet behind a locked fence, rather than a freezer. This option however, although it solves the space issue, can create a liability issue if someone breaks into it for used sharps.

Regulation: The regulation aspect of medical waste at multiple locations is usually handled by administrators, a legal team, compliance officers and some clinical staff. On a small scale, a mistake can be handled and learned from. Mistakes and fines on a large scale can turn into a nightmare. For example, a first-time OSHA fine can run up to $13,000, with repeat violations going as high as $30,000. Multiplying this by several locations can be detrimental to a medical group.  Nursing groups, for example, typically have up to 40 locations to manage.  While the risk of making mistakes is always there at any given medical facility, most people don’t pay close enough attention to them until the first costly fine comes in.

Scheduling: When it comes to scheduling medical waste pick-ups, medical facilities often times face inefficiency as an obstacle. Sometimes, there is not enough medical waste to justify paying for an already scheduled pickup. At other times, the scheduled pick-up date is too far for the already overflowing amount of medical waste after a busy couple of weeks. In this case, medical facilities, primarily- primarily the administration departments- must deal with scheduling additional last minute pick-ups, which usually cost significantly more. This becomes excessively expensive when an administration team is dealing with multiple locations.

Ordering Supplies: In a similar way that scheduling can be challenging, ordering supplies, such as red bags and sharps containers, has similar issues. Ordering too little or too much present their own complications. This process can be simplified by using a single vendor on automation to avoid confusion and ensure that a medical facility doesn’t run out of important waste bags and containers.

An Alternative Option: After looking at what traditional medical waste disposal looks like, medical facility companies are increasingly looking for better options. An on-premise medical waste solution is on the top of the list because it addresses most of the issues that are faced when disposing of medical waste the traditional way.

An on-premise medical waste solution simplifies collection, eliminates storage requirements, automates compliance reporting and order replenishment, alleviates multiple vendor issues with one solution across unlimited locations, allows for a more accurate budget predictability, and saves money for a company across all locations.

OnSite Waste Technologies is that alternative option and is dedicated to reducing the cost and risk of medical waste processing and disposal. The on-premise desktop-sized processing unit that Onsite offers converts medical waste into sterile garbage that can be placed in a medical facility’s regular trashcan. This solution is more sustainable, less expensive, and significantly safer than the traditional ways of medical waste disposal.

To learn more, request a free consultation with one of Onsite’s specialists.

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