Waste management in healthcare centers

Healthcare establishments, whether hospitals, health centers, nursing homes or laboratories, handle large amounts of waste.

Spanish hospitals generate more than 700 tons of garbage every day, and this amount doubled during the pandemic years.

This waste can be toxic, infectious, radioactive, sharp or sharp and must be treated according to specific protocols so as not to harm people’s health and the environment.

Firstly, it is necessary to accurately quantify and classify said waste, in such a way that an inventory can be prepared that determines the quantity of each type of waste.

According to the physicochemical properties of the waste, its possible incompatibility reactions in case of mixture and its final treatment.

Order MAM/304/2002, of February 8, in section 18 identifies the different types of waste from medical services,

  • Sharp and sharp objects.
  • Anatomical remains and organs, including blood bags and banks.
  • Waste whose collection and disposal is subject to special requirements to prevent infections.
  • Waste whose collection and disposal is not subject to special requirements to prevent infection (e.g. bandages, plaster casts, linen, disposable clothing, diapers).
  • Chemical products consisting of, or containing, hazardous substances.
  • Rest of chemical products.
  • Cytotoxic and cytostatic drugs.
  • Rest of medications.
  • Amalgam waste from dental care.

To separate and package all this waste, different approved types of drums, containers or waterproof polyethylene boxes are usually used, as well as other types of safety packaging with firebreaks and pressure compensation.

Each container must be correctly labeled, determining the type of waste, weight and/or quantity.

Likewise, the storage of waste, until the management company removes it, is also the responsibility of the center. According to Law 7/2022, of April 8, on waste and contaminated soils for a circular economy, it is prohibited to store hazardous waste for more than six months.

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