THE OBLIGATION TO TREAT POTENTIALLY INFECTIOUS CLINICAL WASTE
Taking a preventive approach to the health risk involved in handling potentially infectious healthcare waste, it is regulated by laws in most countries. World Health Organisation (WHO) insists upon the collection and treatment of potentially infectious clinical waste either at an accredited sorting centre or in situ.
In order to be totally safe, the clinical waste must be managed by adhering to best practices, which include allocating the various responsibilities and ensuring the availability of sufficient human and material resources to handle the risk-free separation, recycling and disposal of this waste. Most of the waste generated at healthcare facilities is ordinary and non-infectious (e.g. packaging, food waste, disposable paper towels). This waste must be separated from any which is infectious and thrown into clearly identified bins, in sealed bags, and disposed of as ordinary municipal waste. Any infectious waste generated when looking after patients – including waste from patients who have been confirmed to have COVID-19 – such as sharps, bandages, and anatomical and infectious waste, must be collected in totally safe way in clearly identified lined containers or sharps boxes. This waste must be treated – preferably in situ – and then disposed of in a totally safe way. The methods to be used where possible are high-temperature treatment, dual chamber incineration or autoclaving. If the waste is taken off-site, it is essential to be fully aware of where and how it will be treated and disposed of.