Archive April 2017 XVIII, No. 4

How Do You Dispose of Fluid Medical Waste?

Three facilities discuss their choice of liquid waste management.

Bill Donahue, Senior Editor


fluids bound for disposal FLUID DYNAMICS A single surgery can fill several containers with fluids bound for disposal.

Safety, cost and simplicity: All are essential considerations in the world of surgery, but which one wears the crown in your OR? Your answer just might determine if you need to adjust how you manage the disposal of the potentially infectious byproducts of surgery — namely, blood and other forms of fluid waste.

You could dump fluids manually, which is likely the simplest and most economical option, but it may also expose staff to infection and ergonomic hazards. Or you could invest in solidifying and decontaminating agents that may help you to trim the amount of red-bag waste that has to be hauled off at a premium. Or, for the ultimate in staff safety — and capital costs — you could opt for a stationary direct-to-drain system that is hard-plumbed into the sanitary sewer, or a portable system on a cart that employs a docking station for automated drainage to the sanitary sewer. We talked to 3 surgical facility leaders about why they altered their approaches to fluid-waste management.

Spend a little, save a lot
The unpleasant odor, or lack thereof — that's what Rebecca Rhodes, CST, notices most since her surgery center shifted its approach to handling fluid waste. She's not the only one who detects a change in the air.

"We're a small facility, so the biohazard room is close to PACU," says Ms. Rhodes, materials manager for Wesmark Surgery Center in Sumter, S.C. "When that room would get smelly, patients had to deal with it. Now, I never once smell it. It's much more pleasant for patients, and the nurses, too, especially when you're at the nurses station all day."

It's a matter of then versus now. When it first opened, the surgery center did mostly urological procedures. It has since grown to include orthopedics, ENT, podiatric procedures and "lots of GI," says Ms. Rhodes. In all, it's doing about 600 cases per month, meaning the amount of fluid waste that's being generated has gone up exponentially.

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