Biomedical waste is waste that is generated during diagnosis, treatment or immunization of human beings. In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the need for safe management of biomedical waste for effective health service delivery. Hospital-Associated Infections (HAI) are estimated to affect approximately 5% of hospitalized patients.
Hospitals are reservoirs for strains of bacteria that are multi drug resistant. Inadequate waste management can cause environmental pollution, growth and multiplication of vectors and may lead to the transmission of diseases. Progressive increase in hospital infection rate and increasing resistance to wide variety of antibiotics are indicators of the poor biomedical waste management that plague the healthcare institutions with ill health, impact on environment and water pollution.
Biomedical waste must be properly managed and disposed off to protect the environment, general public and workers, especially healthcare and sanitation workers who are at risk of exposure to biomedical waste as an occupational hazard. Steps in the management of biomedical waste include generation, segregation, collection, storage, transport, treatment and disposal.
Collection & Storage
Biomedical waste should be collected in containers that are leak-proof and sufficiently strong to prevent breakage during handling. Containers are marked with a biohazard symbol and the category of waste. Discarded sharps are usually collected in specialized sharp containers.
A separate team of housekeeping staff is identified for collecting the segregated waste at all points in closed trolleys and transporting to the common storage area identified in the hospital premises. The clearance is done as per schedule. When the covers are three fourth filled they are tagged appropriately and cleared in closed trolleys. The collection of the biomedical waste is recorded in a checklist.
The collected segregated waste is stored in designated rooms containing big puncture proof drums. The drums should be strong enough to withstand any possible damage that may occur during loading, transportation or unloading of waste. No untreated biomedical waste is kept beyond 24 hours in the premises. All the rooms are washed and disinfected after each clearance.
Disposal occurs off-site, at a location that is different from the site of generation. Off-site treatment and disposal involves hiring of a biomedical waste disposal agency authorised by the government whose employees are trained to collect and haul away biomedical waste in special containers for treatment at a facility designed to handle biomedical waste.
The goals of biomedical waste treatment are to reduce or eliminate the waste’s hazards, and usually to make the waste unrecognizable. Treatments should render the waste safe for subsequent handling and disposal.
1. Incineration: Incineration is the process of controlled combustion of waste. Waste is oxidized and disinfected at high temperature. The volume and weight of waste is reduced by 95%. Ash from the incinerator is disposed off in secured landfills. Pits of two meters depth are half filled with waste and covered with calcium hydroxide up to 50cm from surface. Rest of the pit is filled with soil and covered with iron / wire mesh.
2. Autoclaving: Autoclaving is a thermal process. Waste is sterilized using steam generated at high pressure and temperature. The volume and weight of waste reduced by 30%. Disinfected waste is passed from autoclave to shredder through a conveyor. Mutilation of the autoclaved waste is done in the shredder. The waste is made unrecognizable and reusable.
3. Cement pit: Sharps are disinfected and stored in cement pits. The pits are closed with air tight lids. Cement makes the pits watertight in order to avoid contamination of groundwater and soil.
4. Effluent treatment plant: Waste water from the scrubber, floor wash and vehicle cleaning are disinfected and treated in the effluent treatment plant. Treated water is used for gardening and irrigation purposes. Sludge is disposed in the secured landfill.
HK (Quality and Process)
Faber Sindoori Management Services Pvt Ltd