The medical waste disposal industry can be a confusing arena to enter. If you run a doctors' office and generate this particular type of waste, you very likely have a few misconceptions about it, and that could end up costing you unnecessary money or making your waste disposal more difficult than it needs to be. Read on to ensure your medical waste disposal is as seamless, safe, cost-effective, and legally compliant as possible!
5 False Ideas Doctors' Offices Have about Medical Waste Disposal
Misconception #1: Waste Management Contracts Are the Only Option
If you're running a new doctors' office and you find yourself shopping around for a waste management contract, don't sign on that dotted line just yet! Although the waste disposal industry is dominated by a few companies that do require these contracts, the documents have some serious downsides, including the following:
- Locking you into multiyear deals.
- Charging exorbitant breakage fees to get out of the contract.
- Charging a huge monthly bill (for a laundry list of services, of which you only use a handful).
What's a contract alternative then?
A waste management service agreement is nearly always a most cost-effective and less troublesome arrangement. In a service agreement, you only pay for what services you use that month, and you're not forced into agreeing to a long-term deal. You're month to month, and if (for any reason) you're unhappy with your waste management provider, you can simply switch it up whenever you choose.
Misconception #2: Waste Management Contracts Save Doctors' Offices Money
Of course, whether contracts can cut down on your medical waste disposal cost depends on your particular doctors' office and what you need on an ongoing monthly basis (as it relates to your medical waste). However, for the vast majority of doctors' offices, the monthly fee assessed with a contract includes lots of extras that the office simply doesn't use from month to month. This includes OSHA compliance training, pharmaceutical waste disposal, and so on.
Working with a medical waste disposal company that offers a service agreement means a more "a la carte" method for you, meaning you only pay for what you use.
Say, for example, you need document destruction services one month. You can expect that to run your doctors' office in the ballpark of $35 (depending on a number of factors). If you're locked into a contract, you could be assessed that $35 monthly, as it's included in your hefty recurring fee. Doesn't it make more sense, though, to just pay for document shredding on the specific months you actually need it?
Misconception #3: Red Bag Medical Waste Is for All Waste Streams
One of the biggest (and most dangerous) misconceptions about medical waste removal is that regulated medical waste bags ("red bags") are for just about any waste generated in a doctors' office. They are not!
Red bags are specifically for products contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious materials. Therefore, the following should never go in a red bag:
- Trace chemotherapy materials.
- Pathological waste.
- Expired pharmaceuticals.
Why is this regulated medical waste disposal such a big deal? Before final disposal, regulated medical waste is treated with a medical waste autoclave, while items such as pathological waste must go for medical incineration. If hazardous materials like trace chemotherapy waste just go through an autoclave (rather than an incinerator), those items will still be hazardous when they are ultimately disposed of, posing serious risks to people and the surrounding environment.
Misconception #4: As the Generator, You're No Longer Responsible Once You Hand Your Waste to a Disposal Company
As the generator of the waste stream, you assume cradle to grave liability. Even if you hire a third party to deal entirely with your waste, you are still liable for fines or other punitive action if something unsafe or illegal ever happens with waste generated in your doctors' office.
Misconception #5: All Medical Waste Disposal Companies Are the Same
Because that liability ultimately falls back on you, you always want to choose the most reliable, experienced, and professional waste disposal company possible. For cost savings and convenience, choose a full-service company, but make sure to do your due diligence before picking a company. Research them online, read reviews, and get references to ensure the company can come through on its promises.
For more information about what doctors' offices should know about medical waste disposal, please feel free to contact a representative of MCF Environmental Services, a waste management Atlanta business.