As healthcare workers, we are trained to look out for the well-being of others and often forget to protect our own welfare. However, when dealing with biohazardous waste, there are risks that every healthcare worker should be aware of and avoid. Although many of the recommended actions may seem obvious, they are important reminders that can make a substantial difference to your health.
What is Biohazardous Waste?
Biohazardous waste is generated in the diagnosis, treatment or immunization of human beings that is contaminated by blood, bodily fluids, other potentially infectious materials. Contamination may be due to bacteria, viruses, or parasites that cause an array of illnesses, such as the flu, pneumonia, MRSA, c-diff, gram-negative infections, and, of course, COVID. When a resident is in isolation, they most likely have an infectious illness.
To control the spread of infectious illnesses, precautions – like wearing the appropriate PPE (e.g., gowns, gloves, face masks, and face shields) are taken.
Some infectious illnesses can live outside the body for various periods of time. Therefore, extra care should be taken when handling or disposing of anything that comes in contact with the infectious illness or contaminated material.
The best way to take that extra care is to segregate the waste by the use of red bags and yellow bags.
The following should be placed in Red Bags:
- Sharps Containers
- Contaminated Isolation PPE (COVID, C-Diff, MRSA)
- Contaminated Trash (Blood or Body Fluids)
The following should be placed in Yellow Bags:
- Contaminated laundry, such as reusable gowns
ALL other trash (i.e., food containers, leftover food, disposable utensils, etc.) goes in normal trash bags, unless your site recycles.