Reusable containers: reminder that not all things medwaste are high risk

August 17, 2009 at 3:07 pm | Posted in Briefing | Leave a comment
Decontamination levels in healthcare environments. Click to enlarge.

Decontamination levels in healthcare environments. Click to enlarge.

We have been alerted to an interesting article in this month’s ReSource journal, about whether or not the reuse of medical waste containers presents enough of a disease transmission risk to special treatment with regards to monitoring.

The same line of thought would apply to whether or not waste bins need to be incinerated along with their contents.

Abstract: Reusable plastic containers are commonly used to transport health care risk waste. Some regulatory authorities require disinfection, microbiological monitoring or process validation to ensure minimisation of a perceived risk of disease transmission from the containers.

The study surveyed scientific literature and relevant guidelines, and as no evidence of risk was found, recommends quality assurance resources be commensurate with these findings.

Disinfection, microbiological monitoring and microbiological validation are not indicated. Visual criteria for cleanliness together with written protocols will ensure risk-free use of the containers. Article available here (not free).

The piece is interesting because it serves as a reminder that not all that comes into contact with medical waste needs equal treatment.

As a low-contact surface, the author’s argue, the hazard posed by medical waste containers can be adequately dealt with by washing them with water and detergent, in the same way one would wash floors (another low-contact surface) – and that if medical devices which come into contact with mucous membranes require no monitoring, then waste bins certainly don’t.

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