Physician Practice

'Significant and conflicting': Making sense of the latest hazardous waste rules

Medical Environment Update, November 1, 2017

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Implementing a hazardous waste management program requires five primary steps

Inspectors from the federal EPA and comparable state agencies have been keeping tabs on entities that generate hazardous waste pursuant to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) since the law passed in 1976. Over the years, some states and municipalities have been more aggressive than others.

More recently, however, due to newfound concerns over proper RCRA management of pharmaceutical wastes in the healthcare sector, inspectors from federal, state, and local agencies alike have increased their scrutiny of the waste streams coming out of healthcare facilities nationwide, says Darrell J. Oman, program manager of consulting services for Stericycle Environmental Solutions.

"This has resulted in increased enforcement activity (such as notice-of-violation letters and sometimes financial fines) in nearly every state," says Oman. "Besides the risk of financial fines for noncompliance with environmental laws (including RCRA), healthcare facilities and their leadership are subject to negative publicity and significant internal organizational costs."

Those costs could include a drain on your staff and leadership team's time, expenses related to outside legal counsel or environmental compliance experts, and capital costs for systems, supplies, or infrastructure purchases or modifications, he says. That's why you should invest time and energy up front to ensure your hazardous waste management is keeping up with the times.

This is an excerpt from a member only article. To read the article in its entirety, please login or subscribe to Medical Environment Update.

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