The standards of healthcare waste disposal vary from hospital to hospital, general practitioner to general practitioner. Some are given gleaming badges of hygiene-friendly certification from boards of officials, while others are exposed as filth merchants by the local press.
But, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the problem isn’t as black and white as all that. It’s a problem across the board – and it’s putting patients at risk.
The RCN has put out a new series of guidelines, entitled The Management of Waste Arising from Health, Social and Personal Care, which claims that training regarding the disposal of all waste products should be strengthened with clear expectations about the standard of hygiene.
The report also argues that every medical professional should be taught how to adequately segregate waste to make disposal more eco-friendly, as well as how to adhere to the codes of practice in every hospital.
Every nurse’s responsibility
RCN nursing adviser for infection control Rose Gallagher said, “Safe management of health care waste is the responsibility of all staff in health settings. This guidance is designed to support health care workers, and particularly nursing staff, in managing the waste generated through their roles.
“There is evidence to suggest that a large quantity of health care waste is classified as infectious when it doesn’t actually present a risk of infection. It should instead be classed as offensive waste, meaning it is non-hazardous. This improvement in classification could lead to cost savings and a reduction in carbon emissions.
“All healthcare organisations should use this new guidance and provide adequate support to their staff in dealing with waste management issues.”
The new guidelines should act as a wake-up call for any hospital officials – it’s time to increase the quality of your waste disposal.