Medical Waste: What to Watch Out For With Your Pickups

01/17/20 04:52 AM

In most medical practices, facilities, and labs, there are usually two options for medical waste treatment and disposal: Hiring a third-party carrier to transport the medical waste first to a treatment facility and then to landfill, OR choosing a state-approved onsite treatment solution.

When choosing the first option, a third-party carrier, the most vital aspect to take into consideration is that the medical waste generator (the hospital, medical facility, etc.) carries the “cradle to grave” responsibility. This means that by law, if anything goes wrong between the time medical waste is created to the time it is disposed of, the responsibility/ blame will always be put on the hospital, medical facility, lab, etc. When there are many people handling the medical waste in between the medical facility and the landfill, things could get messy. In addition to major liability risks, there are a lot of costs to take into consideration!

Here are a few important tips to remember when choosing third-party carriers to dispose of medical waste:

Transportation-  The first thing that medical facility managers must note are the regulation that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Transport (DOT) have developed for waste transporters. Those regulations can be found here. 

Even though it is the transporter’s responsibility to know and follow these regulations, it’s still important for facility managers to be aware of them in case of an accidental spill or wrongful pick-up. Again, due to the laws in place, it is the medical facility (the waste generator) that is liable for anything that happens.

It’s also important to note that each medical waste transporter must have a unique ID, which is given by the EPA to the waste transportation company. This ID should be on the transportation vehicle at all times.

Registrations- Similar to know the laws on a federal level for medical waste handling, it’s good to know about the registrations required per state and county. Registration requirements vary by county, and it’s important to make sure that the third-party hauler has the proper registration as required by the county your medical facility operates in.

Training- Preparing medical waste to be handled by third-party haulers is a process. This process actually has a training required by DOT and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These trainings often require renewals. OSHA’s training focuses on keeping employees safe during handling. DOT’s training focuses on things such as container labeling and what to do in case of emergencies.

Hidden Charges – After safety precautions, budget and fees are the second most important aspect that medical facilities take into consideration when choosing how to handle their waste. When disposing of medical waste via third-party haulers, extra and hidden charges are many times a big issue. This is important to take into consideration when signing contracts with the transportation company. Some haulers will charge for picking up empty containers, for example. Also, sometimes companies charge high fees for unscheduled/ extra pick-ups during the months. It’s also important to ask what the price increase notification process is.

In addition to hidden charges accrued via medical waste transportation companies, its wise to consider the costs that may pop up if something goes wrong. Hiring a third-party transporter involves drivers, and human error is inevitable. There can be costly repercussions when a driver fails to make a scheduled pick-up or, or has a road accident.

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Considering the responsibilities of transportation, registration, training, and hidden charges that need to be taken into account when hiring third –party haulers to help with proper medical waste disposal, it may seem like a lot. Is there an alternative?

YES! Onsite medical waste treatment and disposal may be a better option for your medical facility or home care site. To read more about this option, click below!

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