Physician Practice

Wasteful questions

Medical Environment Update, January 1, 2019

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Editor’s note: In this guest column, Dan Scungio, MT(ASCP), SLS, laboratory safety officer for Sentara Healthcare, a multihospital system in Virginia, and otherwise known as “Dan, the Lab Safety Man,” discusses the important issues that affect your job every day.

Understanding the proper separation and disposal of the various waste types generated in the lab setting is an important piece of managing the overall laboratory safety program. Educating staff about trash segregation, storage and packaging requirements, and providing required training can prevent unwanted exposures, environmental mishaps, and even fines. As a lab safety consultant, I receive multiple questions about the handling of lab waste. Here, I will highlight a few that have been asked often.

Q: Can unused specimen transport bags be disposed of into regular trash containers if they have a biohazard label on them?

A: In many states, any item (clean or dirty) that contains a biohazard symbol must be placed into containers of regulated medical waste (RMW). Check with your local RMW vendor or your facility’s infection control practitioner to see what the authorities in your area allow. Some vendors make transport bags with perforations that, when ripped, tear the biohazard symbol in half. While this solution may seem like a good one, I would still recommend checking to see if it is acceptable to dispose of these partial-symbol bags into a regular-waste landfill.

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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