Like most dental offices, you likely have numerous patients coming and going daily for various procedures and treatments. This means your practice probably generates a substantial amount of waste—some of which is considered hazardous. For this reason, you and others in your office need to know how to dispose of medical waste properly to keep your patients and staff safe and protect yourself from non-compliance.
This article will explain different situations you may encounter with medical waste to help ensure your office is medical waste compliant.
Sharps, Pharmaceutical, and Medical Waste
Medical waste must be separated from your regular trash when it contains hazardous materials or more than a drop of blood. You will want to purchase a separate container for your regulated waste. If the hazardous material does not have blood, you can place it in the sharps container. You can dispose of both types of containers by an onsite collection or mail-back.
Here’s more information on the different types of waste:
- Medical: This involves blood-saturated and visibly contaminated items, like blood-saturated gauze and bandages, and contaminated PPE. You should place these items in a red biohazard bag and treat them as regulated medical waste.
- Sharps: If you have items that can puncture the skin, like blades, lancets, needles, carpules, and syringes, and may contain blood-borne pathogens, they should be disposed of in a sharps container.
- Pharmaceutical: This could include any unused or partially used medications. You can use a pharmaceutical recovery container to dispose of this waste.
While not as complex as sharps or medical waste, disposing of dental mercury requires more effort. Dentists who place amalgam fillings generate mercury waste. Federal law requires dentists to put amalgam capsules into waste buckets and send them to a certified disposal company. This also applies to pulled teeth with amalgam fillings.
Dentists use digital x-rays to look at patients’ teeth to check roots and any cavities that may be forming. Over the past few decades, X-ray radiation and exposure have lessened due to new technology. However, dentists and patients are still required to wear and use lead aprons. These must be disposed of through a lead recycling company after they reach the end of their use.
Additionally, dentists with a film x-ray machine have more to consider when it comes to waste, as the fixer contains silver nitrate, which cannot be poured down the drain.
Lead aprons can be disposed of by mail-back service, onsite pickup, or collecting and disposing of it yourself.
Unused or expired medications
Getting rid of expired or unused medications can be difficult as federal laws and regulations differ. You can use a pharmaceutical waste mail-back service or an authorized medication disposal company. Despite which method you use, you should always get a receipt or certificate that they were destroyed. This is especially true if you carry any controlled substances in your practice.
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Don’t take on the burden of medical waste disposal yourself. Let the reliable, OSHA-compliant team at Preferred Waste Concepts handle it for you in a manner that keeps your people and your organization safe.
With experienced drivers, expert disposal professionals, and a trusted, contracted treatment facility for final disposal, you can count on us to handle your waste disposal needs professionally and comprehensively.
Ready to work with us? To learn more or to get started, contact us now.