We have now been informed that according to Joint Commission rules, in association with EPA studies, there is entirely too much drug contamination in the nation’s water supplies. Therefore, hospitals must now separate waste into multiple bins and dispose of such waste appropriately in order to avoid being fined by the EPA and sanctioned by JCAHO. And JCAHO will go through the garbage during its inspections to make sure that you are complying with the rules, too!
Regular waste goes into a blue bag. Blue bags comprise most of the waste in the hospital.
“Hazardous waste,” must be put it into a black hazard bag. Hazardous medications include epinephrine, phenylephrine (i.e. Neo-synephrine nasal spray), insulin, silvadene, nitroglycerin, prednisone, and silver nitrate sticks and others. Next time you go to the store to buy any of these products, make sure that you wear special gloves and gown. Then when you’re done purchasing them, make sure you read how hazardous they are in the product handouts and how you can only dispose of them in a black hazard bag that you must now purchase from JCAHO-licensed distributors. Oh. Sorry. These drugs are only treated as hazardous inside of hospitals. Carry on.
“Infectious waste” must go into a red bag. Infectious waste includes anything that comes into contact with bodily fluids. All you mommies who throw your kids diapers in the “regular” garbage and anyone who throws used facial tissues in the “regular” garbage is breaking JCAHO laws. Stop it now or you’ll be fined and may possibly be decredentialed.
“Dual pharmaceutical waste” means that waste is both infectious and hazardous. That must go into a purple hazard box immediately. If anything in the “hazardous waste” category comes into contact with any bodily fluid, then it fits this category. If you spray Neo-Synephrine up your nose and then blow your nose into a tissue, find a purple box immediately. The tissue may spontaneously combust.
“Non-compatible waste” must be placed in a special black bag with an orange triangle. We must then contact the pharmacy for a special waste pick up. Non compatible waste includes any asthma inhalers – due to the propellants contained in the container. In other news, the US Government is currently developing a secret group of mercenaries that will take a couple of puffs off of an asthma inhaler, spray Neo-Synephrine up their noses, cough and blow their noses into a tissue, and then throw the tissues at selected targets. Biologic warfare at its finest. Watch out Al-Qaeda. We mean business.
Controlled substances must be flushed down a toilet while another person watches and then must documented on a special sheet by the toilet. Apparently the risk of polluting our waterways pales in comparison to the threat of someone getting ahold of a couple of drops of extra morphine lying around in a syringe.
Oh yeah, and sharps have to be put in the red sharps container. BUT … if there is medication in the syringe, it must be squirted into a gauze pad and then deposited into the appropriate bin (or flushed down the toilet) as described above before the syringe is discarded.
I keep getting confused about what to do if someone pees on an asthma inhaler or what to do if a kid spits out Tylenol with codeine elixir and hits his mother’s purse.
Sitting dejectedly underneath the doctor’s desk is the lonely metal trash can with its non-JCAHO-approved clear plastic liner.
The whole colored trash can idea reminds me of my childhood.
We-he-he-he-lllll boys and girls. I’ve got a special game for you today. Here’s a pen that looks like a syringe, an asthma inhaler that was dropped in the hospital waiting room, a tissue with an unknown yellow substance on it, a shoelace, and a piece of gum chewed by someone who just immigrated to this country from Congo. Let’s play MEDICAL Bozo BUCKETS!
Stay tuned after the commercial so you can watch JCAHO teach doctors how to run their hospital medical staff.