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Archive July 2018 XIX, No. 7

3 Golden Rules of Fluid Waste Disposal

Follow these tips for safe, economical liquid waste management.

Jim Burger

Jim Burger, Senior Editor


WASTE MANAGEMENT How do you dispose of suction canisters filled with infectious blood and body fluids?

Most surgical waste is liquid waste, infectious blood and bodily fluids that have been diverted during surgery. How do you collect and dispose of it? There's a good chance you're using a fluid management system that empties liquids directly into the sanitary sewer system, maybe one that's stationary and hard-plumbed into the sanitary sewer or perhaps one that's portable, on a cart that uses a docking station for automated drainage to the sanitary sewer. However you manage liquid waste, follow these 3 Golden Rules for suction canister disposal.

1Safeguard your staff.

Golden Rule No. 1 is more like a commandment: Thou shalt not let staff manually open the liquid-filled canisters and pour the contents down the hopper into the sanitary sewer system. The down-the-drain method can pose a significant risk of splashing or aerosolization of bloodborne pathogens for staff. Although it's hard to quantify the cost of treating an employee for exposure to bloodborne path-ogens like HIV and Hepatitis B and C, this practice can lead to OSHA citations regarding personal protective equipment practice, says Margaret Wasserman, BSN, RN, CNOR, senior analyst for peer review at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, Ill.

"It only takes one contaminated worker to offset any potential savings you might anticipate," says Ms. Wasserman. Most facility managers readily agree that the mobile units are the best way to protect staff members from infectious materials, facilitate speedy turnovers between cases and keep fluid waste management costs in check.

"Do they save us money?" asks Lee Ann Puckett, the materials manager at the Evansville (Ind.) Surgery Center. "Probably not, unless you look at the cost of what's involved when somebody gets splashed with bloody fluid, and then having to go through all the protocols with workers' comp."

Direct to drain can be economical, too. Some systems use reusable canisters that are disinfected and reused, while others use an integrated canister system that is completely closed. Still others use disposable canisters that are able to be placed in regular trash after a rinse with an enzymatic cleaner.

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