Hospital waste management is one of the prime concerns of medical authorities as well as concerned government bodies in different countries. Health care wastes are all the accumulated wastes generated in health care establishments, research facilities, laboratories and so forth. Even health care operations conducted in homes can result in generation of hospital wastes.
Much of the hospital wastes which are generated comes from administrative, housekeeping functions and are mostly non toxic, comparable to household wastes. However, about ten to fifteen percent of the wastes in hospitals are hazardous and can create health risks for the community if proper disposal means are not resorted to.
Hospital wastes can be of various types and these need to be ascertained in order to determine the kind of disposal means that should be adopted.
The first category of hospital wastes is infectious wastes. These result from various pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, fungi which may be found in cultures in laboratory work, in wastes from surgeries or autopsies on patients who had contracted infectious diseases, wastes from such infected patients, wastes of patients undergoing haemodialysis and so forth.
The second category of wastes is known as pathological wastes. Such wastes consist of tissues, organs, human fetuses, animal carcasses, blood, body fluids, organs. Such wastes are inevitable part of many hospital procedures such as surgeries, treatments, autopsies and so forth.
The third category of wastes are sharp objects such as hypodermic needles, scalpel, blades, knives, saws, broken glass, nails. These may or may not be contaminated but are considered hazardous health care wastes.
The fourth category of pharmaceutical wastes consist of different pharmaceutical products such as expired or unused drugs, vaccines, sera which have been used or discarded as well as gloves, masks, drug vials and others. These can prove toxic to the environment if not handled properly and hence, their proper disposal is very important.
Another category of hospital wastes are genotoxic wastes which can be particularly hazardous to society. These consist of cytostatic drugs or vomit, faeces, urine of patients being treated with cytostatic drugs for chemotherapy and carcinogenic diseases.
These are the various definitions of hospital waste and hence, proper hospital waste management is very important. Every type of waste has varying degrees of hazard to the environment and hence, proper disposal of hospital wastes is imperative to prevent pollution to the environment and for ensuring the safety and health of humans living in society.