It's not surprising that doctors' offices and hospitals needs to properly and legally dispose of all the biohazardous materials generated in that facility. However, the exact same rules apply to veterinarians, yet many are not fully complying with the legal regulations surrounding that waste disposal. If you work in a veterinarian's office, it is crucial that you comply with every law dealing with biohazardous material.
Biohazardous Waste Disposal and Veterinarians
Proper Hazardous Medical Waste Disposal Hasn't Always Been a Focus for Veterinarians
While doctors' offices and hospitals have been diligently following all medical waste regulations for years, there has tended to be a lack of vigilance within veterinarian offices. However, as the laws become more stringent and enforcement becomes more universal, it is becoming increasingly important that all vets are not only aware of the regulations that apply to them but follow these to the letter.
Consequences of Improper Hazardous Waste Removal
A vet is subject to the same punitive measures as any other medical facility if a violation is discovered. This can certainly mean fines or even harsher measures if you've already been warned and haven't fixed the issue. In particularly egregious cases, a vet could even conceivably be shut down. When margins are quite slim, as is common in a vet's office, fines are especially detrimental.
And this is to say nothing of the health and safety of everyone who comes in contact with that biohazardous waste. Plain and simple, not following the law to the letter can put you and others in danger.
Education Is Key to Safe Medical Waste Removal
The only way to ensure your vet office consistently complies with the law is by educating your staff. If your employees have to ask what is biohazardous waste, that's a big problem. Remember, biohazardous material is any solid waste generated in the treatment of anything biological. That absolutely includes humans and animals.
Make education a priority in your office to ensure employees understand the protocol that's expected of them.
Dealing with Your Biohazard Waste: Key Points
Biohazardous medical waste needs to be stored, shipped, and treated properly to keep you from paying fines and to preserve the safety of anyone who encounters that waste. Therefore, always keep these key points in mind:
- Anything contaminated by blood is regulated medical waste, and it needs to go in a red bag—never the trash.
- Any needles or syringes used to administer animal vaccinations or to draw blood need to be put in a proper sharp bin before going in with the rest of the red bag waste.
- Ensure that anything designated for regulated medical waste disposal goes through the proper treatment process. For anything blood contaminated or in your sharps bins, that typically means being put through a medical waste autoclave. However, for specific subsets of regulated medical waste, such as pathological waste, medical waste autoclaves will not suffice. You will need to ensure treatment in a medical incinerator instead.
- Reach out to a company within the medical waste disposal industry if you're confused or unsure about what constitutes proper protocol. Whatever you pay in the cost of waste disposal is likely to be much cheaper than the fines you'd have to pay for violations.
For more information about the medical waste disposal industry and how it applies to veterinarians' offices, please feel free to contact a representative of MCF Environmental Services, an Atlanta waste management company.