When a pregnant woman goes in to deliver a baby at a medical center it’s easy to
understand that in a few days she will leave holding her new bundle of joy. But from the
time she enters the hospital until the time she exits with her baby, she leaves a lot of
During her stay, lots of waste is created — everything from medical waste resulting from
birth, to the food she leaves on her tray, to the water used to wash her bed sheets. It all
becomes part of the hospital waste stream.
Without exception, every patient who utilizes hospital services creates waste. Did you
know that the average inpatient generates 25 pounds of waste per day? But even
outpatients who come in for a quick x-ray or blood draw leave waste that hospitals must
dispose of properly.
Hospital Waste Streams
Medical centers and hospitals are extremely complex organizations, and as such, they
deal with many types of waste. Most of a hospital’s waste — about 85 percent — is non-
regulated. But the remainder of the waste produced at a hospital is highly regulated by
various governmental entities. That’s because the waste may pose pathological or
radioactive threats to people or the environment. As such, it must be handled with care.
Hospital waste is often divided into ten broad categories, including:
1. Municipal solid waste or everyday refuse that’s usually just tossed in trash cans.
2. Universal waste which is common waste that may or may not be hazardous.
3. Hazardous waste that can result from many areas of the facility, including
environmental services and plant operations.
4. Regulated medical waste (RMW) that is considered a biohazard and potentially
infectious to others.
5. Sharps management such as needles and IVs.
6. Pharmaceutical waste, which is regulated by the EPA, Drug Enforcement
Agency, Department of Transportation, Joint Commission and more.
7. Trace and chemo waste resulting from cancer treatments, including radiation.
8. Confidential documentation that includes patient’s identifying details.
9. Electronic waste and privacy-protected health information.
10. Recyclable items like plastics, glass, paper goods and metals.
The Environmental Services department usually handles most waste disposal, but no
one department ultimately has responsibility for managing these various types of waste.
That’s why hospitals must institute an alternative waste stream solution to make the
waste disposal process efficient, safe and cost effective. Without a plan, hospitals’
waste disposal efforts may fall short of regulatory requirements, which becomes more
costly to address over time.
Alternative Waste Stream Solutions for Hospitals
Consider this: medical waste is everywhere. According to the World Health
Organization, 16 billion injections are administered each year worldwide, and many of
those needles aren’t disposed of properly. Additionally, trace amounts of prescription
drugs have been found in the drinking water of more than 41 million Americans. To
address these things, the EPA, the Joint Commission and other regulatory agencies
impose regulations to govern hospital waste disposal. If your hospital isn’t up-to-date on
changing regulations, you run the risk of noncompliance. That could cost your facility…
both monetarily and in community trust and reputation.
Instead of relying on each of the hospital’s various departments to handle waste
appropriately — and therefore increasing the risk of non-compliance — many hospitals
rely on outside vendors to generate an alternative waste stream solution. This option
streamlines waste disposal across all departments and support services, ensuring
compliance for every type of waste a hospital can produce.
For instance, undispensed pharmaceuticals need to be disposed of, but the process
must follow federal regulations. An alternative disposal plan will see that your hospital’s
drug waste is:
- Categorized by method of disposal, a strategy known as “characterizing your waste”
- Separated by hazardous and non Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
- Transported to an appropriate disposal site, and Disposed of properly.
Pharmaceutical waste is only one example and each waste stream in a hospital has its
own unique regulations and requirements, associated costs, and methods of disposal.
Disposal costs increase depending on how highly regulated a waste product may be.
Regulated medical waste, pharmaceutical and hazardous chemical waste, radiological
waste and the like are 10 to 100 times more costly to address than general solid waste.
That’s why it’s important to minimize the amount of expensive regulated waste produced
at your hospital so you can save money and reduce compliance risk.
A Trusted Partner
Hospitals across the nation look to Soriant Solutions to help them develop customized
alternative waste stream solutions and environmental services consulting services. With
decades of experience in hospital support services, Soriant delivers:
- Cost-effective solutions,
- Streamlined operation costs, and
- Improved patient experiences.
We offer assistance in finding new supply vendors, negotiating equipment contracts,
and implementing green solutions that help your organization save money, improve
HCAHPS scores, and adhere to regulatory standards.
Soriant is committed to the long-term success of your organization. We offer complete
transparency and accuracy throughout the engagement. From small community
hospitals to large, multi-site hospitals systems, Soriant is equipped to support your
facility’s cost and quality improvement needs. With a 100% success rate in minimizing
targeted expenditures, Soriant helps maximize healthcare quality and efficiencies. By
impacting support services, supply chain consulting and implementing best practices,
Soriant will positively impact your facility’s bottom line.
Use our convenient online calculator to see how much our alternative approach to
waste disposal will save your facility. Once you see how much your facility can save,
please get in touch at 770-777-6633 to discuss how our solutions will help your hospital
effectively manage waste disposal while avoiding the risk of non-compliance.