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Does Your Practice Handle Clinical Waste Effectively?

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You wouldn’t keep throwing domestic waste in a bin at home if it was overflowing, would you? It’s simple common sense to empty and renew. Yet this is one of the CQCs most common findings when it inspects healthcare providers for errors in clinical waste management.

Incorrectly managed clinical waste raises concerns about safety in the healthcare environment, as well as question marks over working practices and processes.

In this post we’ll look at some good policies and procedures, those to which the CQC will expect GP practices to adhere.

Safety is the major concern of effective clinical waste management

When it inspects your practice, the CQC will expect to see evidence that you have robust procedures for dealing with clinical waste. This includes how you:

- Classify and segregate;

- Label and store; and

- Package for transport.

When using or disposing, clinical items should be described accurately on all documentation. And when transported, clinical waste should only be handed over to an authorized person for transportation to an authorized waste site.

Be sharp with how you manage sharps

Sharps containers are colour-coded for different sharps types:

- Purple lidded bins are for cytotoxic and cytostatic medicinally-contaminated sharps;

- Yellow lidded bins for medicinally contaminated sharps;

- Orange lidded bins are for non-medicinally contaminated sharps.

Never place a sharps container inside a waste bag – each has to be processed separately by the waste contractor.

Make sure that labels are properly completed, and never fill the receptacle above the black line. Finally, even if the receptacle is not full, after it has been used for the first time it must be locked and stored to be collected for disposal after a maximum of three months.

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Don’t be wasteful with waste bins

A few guidelines/rules to get your team on the way to keeping on top of clinical waste management:

- Keep waste bins where they are accessible to staff

- Make sure bins have lids and are operated by a foot pedal if in clinical areas and toilets

- Never fill a bin more than two thirds full

- Tie with a plastic tie or a secure knot

As with sharps waste, bins should be labelled correctly (including address and date). This way if there is an incident, tracing back will be easy. Finally store in a safe, secure area to be collected. Keep all waste away from the public, animals, and pests (not always one and the same!).

A Final Word

The safe handling of clinical waste is a matter for all. While there should be a designated person responsible for the transfer of waste to the waste disposal contractor, it’s good practice that everyone takes on the duty of ensuring clinical waste is properly treated within the GP practice.

A regular slot in team meetings to remind employees how to handle clinical waste is a strategy that several practices employ to ensure their waste is handled properly and safely.

For more information and a framework for safely and appropriately handling clinical waste disposal, download print and share the following resources:

Healthcare Technical Memorandum (HTM) 07-01 ‘Safe Management of Healthcare Waste

Health and Safety at Work Regulations’ Code of Practice on infection control

If you have any questions or feedback, please do not hesitate to contact me -alex.henman@esuppliesmedical.co.uk - 01865 261451

Useful Areas Of Infection Control to look at

CQC Colour Coded Cleaning Products

Disposable Curtains

Sharps Bins and Pads

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