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Legislating Medical Waste Essay

1259 words - 6 pages

On average, one hospital discards 80,000 pound's worth of medical waste annually, which can cost up to $15,200, just to dispose it properly(Men, C. 2012, June 7). Now one might think that medical waste is anything discarded in a hospital, however the true definition of medical waste is quite restricted, and you might be surprised to discover that only 20% of a hospital's waste is actually labeled “medical waste”."The interpretation is any infectious waste materials generated at health care facilities"(Rutala, W. A., & Mayhall, G. (1992, January)). However Medical waste didn't always have a definition, which resulted in some unpleasant consequences until the year of 1988, a defining point for ...view middle of the document...

(1987, August 24). Not only are these events repulsive, but they are also quite consequential on the environment as well as on the community. When the ocean dump occurred, it exposed viral and bacterial infection's to sea life who have ingested or absorbed such wastes(Peterson, I. (1987, August 31). ”Organisms who were infected eventually ended up passing the toxins along the food chain, affecting everything from sea coral to whales, and eventually humans” (Stern, D. (2013, August 6). Consuming the tainted seafood transmuted numerous of diseases, including human immunodeficiency virus or better known as HIV and as well affected the growth, development and health of the consumer. Management of proper disposal required immediate attention which is why Senator Bill Bradley and Frank Lautenberg, joined by twenty-five other senators assembled to create an Act that would help enforce proper disposal of hazardous and immensely infectious waste (Allen, J. E. (1989, June 22).

The need for action on improper medical waste disposal, stimulated by the numerous reports of poor regulation of waste was mandatory which was given by the congress by enacting the Medical Waste tracking act(MWTA). The MWTA established record keeping requirements, consequences of improper disposal, management of packaging, and defined medical waste(Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988. (n.d.)). These regulations weren't fool proof, however they gave greater security on where the medical waste is packaged, where it is sent, and what the contents of it were. The MWTA as well provided medical care workers with a more organized disposal plan that minimized exposure to pathogens which reduced the chances of contracting multiple diseases including Hepatitis-B(Stynes, W. (2011)). According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “at least 18,000 people contract Hep-B annually through accidental exposure to medical waste, and each year up to 200-300 health care workers die from it.”(134 CONG. Rec. H28,208 . Even though the MWTA provided many benefits it was not infallible. The medical waste could only be tracked if it was properly disposed in a bio hazard bin with documentation, meaning an individual health care worker or the facility itself can dispose of the waste without repercussions of fines until caught in the act. The MWTA's standardized definition of Medical waste isn't without it's own faults either, it is quite restricted resulting in segregation of infectious waste, some which ends up being sterilized and placed in landfill's and some which ends up being incinerated, a process that doesn't come without it's own health and environmental risks.

Ever since the MWTA became effective, more medical waste, including sharps, body parts, and other various toxins, have been...

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