Letters to the Editor

Medical waste handled correctly

I am writing in response to the letter from an individual working for the state of Washington in the home health care industry (Letters, Oct. 29).  She was concerned about a lack of official guidance for “biohazard waste” and intimated the public was at risk from waste generated in her job.  While I am not the county authority on the subject I have been a physician involved with infection control for many years and can shed some light on this subject.

Despite her complaint, regulated medical waste (not “biohazard waste”) is defined and regulated very strictly at the state level. Most waste from hospitals and health care in general is not actually “regulated medical waste,” and the waste she describes in her letter does not appear to require regulation. More information on what waste needs regulation may be found on the internet at the Revised Code of Washington Title 70.95K – biomedical waste. Many may be surprised at what is not considered regulated medical waste, but evidence does not support the law being more strict than it is.

All health industry employers are responsible for ensuring employees are familiar with their responsibilities in the generation and handling of regulated medical waste.

For more really exciting reading about regulated medical waste see the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Bloodborne Pathogen Program or the Center for Disease Control websites.  County health authorities are very knowledgeable and helpful in addressing concerns about regulated medical waste and should be consulted if specific questions arise.

Dan Fisher, MD

The Coupeville Clinic


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