Importance of Teaching Medical Waste Management to Outpatients

Most healthcare providers often think that the knowledge when it comes to medical waste management is only applicable to those that are working within the hospital setting. When a doctor meets a patient or a pharmacist dispenses drugs and other medical equipment, they brush off the possibility or the ignorance that their clients and patients have when it comes to disposing of their medical waste properly.

While a medical facility’s active participation in healthcare solutions waste management is essential, they often forget that the common folk has their share of medical waste, too. As professionals, it is also vital that they inform their patients how to dispose of their waste in such a way that they do not impact the environment. It may only be one syringe, but 100 households dispose of one syringe per week can already be impactful to the overall amount of medical waste.

What are the common medical items that outpatients dispose of?

Syringes and Needles

Not every diabetic patient who administers insulin through injectable knows how to dispose of their used syringes without harming anyone who will throw their trash out. Aside from teaching them how to inject insulin properly, healthcare providers must teach and warn them on how to properly cover the needle portion to avoid causing serious harm. This is essential especially if the patient who will use it has a disease that can transfer through used syringe needles.

Old/Expired medicines

For parents that have younger children who got sick, liquid medications are a typical sight in their household. More often than not, these medicines are not fully consumed and are left to expire on kitchen counters and cupboard. For pediatricians, throwing in some additional advice on how to properly dispose of unconsumed liquid suspensions can already help the parent, not only in lessening their carbon footprint but also to clear some kitchen space.

Disposable Gloves

Gloves are a common sight not just in medical facilities but also in school laboratories and households as well. Thus, providing information on how to properly dispose of this versatile material is a must, especially if it used in a contaminated setting. Disposing of the gloves vary depending on the composition. Latex and nitrile gloves are biodegradable. They can be disposed of in the same manner as the typical biodegradable waste if it was not used to handle chemicals. On the other hand, vinyl gloves are non-biodegradable.

Animal carcasses

No matter how careful pet owners are, there are moments that they must bid goodbye to their animal friend. In unfortunate events wherein families experienced the sudden death of their pet, helping them on how to handle the body of their pet family member can somehow lessen the trouble they would encounter once they give their pet the proper burial.

Helping the Environment 

While medical professionals cannot control the amount of medical waste an outpatient produces, informing them about healthcare solutions waste management can already have a huge contribution to lessen the environmental impact these wastes can bring. If possible, healthcare professionals must also take it upon themselves to inform their outpatients about the proper disposal of their medical waste.