Regulated medical waste (RMW) is a term that covers a wide variety of medical materials. It is sometimes referred to as red bag waste, biohazard waste, or infectious medical waste. It is any item contaminated with liquid, semi-liquid blood, or other potentially infectious materials (OPIMs) that could be released when handling.
Regulated medical waste requires segregation, special handling, and specific disposal. It must be handled carefully to prevent the spread of disease and to maintain compliance with local regulations. Materials are determined to be RMW by state and federal regulations and the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard.
Some common items defined as regulated medical waste are:
- Blood spill cleanup materials
- Staples and wires (cardio-catheter wires)
- Items saturated with blood or OPIMs
- Dialyzers and tubing
- Needles and syringes
- Broken glass
- Glass pipettes, slides, and tubes
- Surgical specimens
- Containers, catheters, or tubes containing blood, blood products, or OPIMs
- Scalpel blades and lancets
- Disposable suture sets and biopsy forceps
- Microbiology specimens
- Used culture plates, tubes, bottles, and devices
Treatment and Disposal of Regulated Medical Waste
Proper management and disposal of RMW is important because it poses a health risk to the public and waste workers. For example, contaminated needles can poke through garbage bags and poke workers, possibly transmitting serious diseases like HIV and hepatitis.
The goal of treating RMW is to render it noninfectious and safe for further handling and disposal. Incineration has long been used as a disinfection method, however, due to the negative environmental impacts, it is no longer recommended. Today, two methods are used:
- Heat – steam autoclaves, microwave systems, dry heat, and hot air systems, or plasma arc
- Chemical agents – chlorine compounds, ozone, alkali, or other disinfectants
Once the waste is rendered noninfectious, it can be disposed of with regular solid waste (with some exceptions).
Dispose of Your Regulated Medical Waste Today!
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