Archive February 2018 XIX, No. 2

Weighing Your Fluid Waste Disposal Options

Are you using the best method for your facility?

Outpatient Surgery Editors

BIO

FLUID DISPOSAL
FLUID DISPOSAL Getting rid of infectious waste quickly and effectively can make your OR run more efficiently and safely.

From manually dumping open canisters of blood and body fluids down the drain to high-tech suction units that dock directly to a drain, there's a fluid waste disposal option that's perfect for every OR. Question is, which is the best for your facility? Here are the most popular options you might want to consider.

Manually dumping suction canisters

Many facilities still manually transport filled suction canisters from the field to a utility sink and pour the contents down the drain, leading to a municipal sewer system that treats waste. It's simple, low-tech and inexpensive. And, if your facility handles mostly low-fluid volume procedures and your state and local laws allow it, it's even better.

The downside is risk of contamination and slips and falls. Transporting and emptying canisters that are packed with fluid can expose workers to infectious waste through splash back and aerosolization. Every time a staff member pours fluid from an open canister into the drain, they can be exposed to airborne contaminants and possible splash back — especially if the waste disposal handler isn't wearing a face shield, gloves and glasses (these should be worn at all times when dealing with waste). And if any fluid spills on the floor, it now becomes a slip-and-fall risk.

One way to keep your staff members safe: Have them transport the canisters on a washable cart rather than by hand. Staff will be able to keep canisters upright, reducing the risk of a spill. You might also designate a sink just for waste disposal — preferably away from a general-use sink where employees wash their hands or clean supplies.

Solidify and red bag

Want to cut back on the risk of contamination even more? Solidifying suction canisters' contents is a way to do just that. When you add a solidifying agent to the canister, the fluid turns into a gel-like substance. Then canisters get discarded with red bag waste. The canister doesn't get moved when it's in liquid form, so the risk of splash back is minimal.

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