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Archive November 2015 XVI, No. 11

Thinking of Buying ... A Fluid Waste Management System

Consider the benefits of closed collection and disposal.

Pam Skipper, RN


Our schedule is full of arthroscopies. Since we're dealing with lots and lots of fluid waste every day, an automated disposal system is an absolute necessity. But you don't have to be running an ortho specialty center like ours to benefit from keeping your canisters closed. Here are a few ways that fluid waste management systems can help your employees and your efficiency.

  • Safety. For us, the No. 1 reason to implement automated fluid waste disposal systems in our ORs is safety. They practically eliminate all staff exposure to the potentially infectious contents of suction canisters. Compare that to the old days of dumping out huge, multi-liter jugs: how many times did your co-workers get splashed? What was the cost, in testing, staffing and anxiety, that followed these exposure incidents? Closed-canister systems can also help your staff sidestep the bad ergonomics of carrying heavy canisters down the hall to the decontamination room sink, and the potential slips, trips and falls that canister leaks in transit could cause.
  • Cost. A fluid waste management unit will initially involve capital and possibly installation expenses, and perhaps the continuing expense of filters or other disposable supplies. But if you assess these costs in comparison to those of buying a steady supply of canisters only to dispose of them, either empty or full of solidified waste, you'll soon realize which one is the greater burden on your budget over the long term. There's an argument to be made, too, that closed suction disposal deliver faster cleanups and room turnovers than dumping or solidifying methods can.
  • Efficiency. Trialing more than one manufacturer's system can help you and your staff to determine which option contributes the most efficiency to your workflow. Your choice should be easy for staff to use. Wall-mounted suction units that quickly drain canisters right in the OR have an unlimited capacity, but mobile units that can collect fluid anywhere in the room before being rolled to a docking station for disposal and disinfection are convenient for all types of surgery. Be sure to find out whether the volume it can hold can serve your longest cases.

— Pam Skipper, RN

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