brand logo
Healthcare Industry July 24, 2022

11 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Disposing Of Medical Waste

Medically Reviewed by undefined

Written by Adaobi Oduenyi

If you run or work at a healthcare facility, you know that properly disposing of medical waste plays an important role in ensuring the safety and overall health of your staff, patients and visitors.

With the amount of waste produced each day, healthcare facilities must always be prepared, or else something could go wrong during any phase of the disposal process and its impact can become a significant problem if neglected.

Here are some common mistakes done in handling medical waste and the proper way to handle them:


Using the wrong containers for medical wastes

The container for storing specific kinds of medical waste is quite crucial when handling and transporting them for disposal. Infectious waste should be placed in a leak-proof, spill-proof, and puncture-resistant container.

Healthcare professionals often fail to transport sharp objects (needles, etc)  the proper way. Needles and other kinds of sharp objects can tear or puncture a biohazard bag. You need to place the sharp objects in a rigid container before putting them in a biohazard bag.

Putting pharmaceuticals together with medical waste

 The best way to dispose of pharmaceuticals is to put them in waste bins that are specifically made for pharmaceuticals. The waste should also be sorted into different containers depending on their type.

Let your waste management provider know the type of pharmaceuticals you are getting rid of, they will explain the proper method that protects the environment and complies with the regulations.

 Discarding medical waste that contains mercury together with the other wastes

 Mercury-containing waste such as amalgam capsules, amalgam fillings, dental traps, thermometers, and aneroid hypertension devices should be separated from other types of medical waste. 

It should also not be discarded in gutters, garbage, or sharps containers.

Failing to do proper documentation of medical waste during storage and disposal

 The medical waste collected in a facility should have the appropriate tracking documents at all times. The quantity of waste, the date transported and the name of the haulier that will transport the waste should be indicated. This will make sure that everything is accounted for throughout the process of disposal.


 Drinking, smoking, eating, or applying make-up while you are dealing with medical waste will put your health at risk. Since medical waste has hazardous components, handlers are strictly prohibited to perform other activities to avoid exposure.

“Did you know that according to the World Health Organization, approximately 15% of the waste produced by healthcare facilities is infectious, radioactive, or toxic?“

Opening containers for medical waste

 A medical waste container should not be touched, inspected, or re-organised once it has already been sealed. Opening the sealed container may lead to exposure and contamination.

 Failing to use proper protection while handling medical waste

 If you are assigned to handle medical waste, you should always wear protective equipment. This includes a face mask, nitrile gloves, full-length gown, and goggles.

Using large medical waste containers in the patient room

Larger containers make it easy for patients and staff to use them as regular trash bins. When possible, do not make medical waste containers accessible to anyone but staff. 

Surgical Face Mask (1 pack)

Surgical Face Mask (1 pack)

Basic Surgical Masks Provide Protection And Use Ma...


Not posting signs that describe the type of waste that can be disposed of and in which container

 Place signs throughout the facility that describe the type of waste that can be put into each container. Visual reminders and pictograms help your staff and patients understand your policies better and do the right thing every time.

Not having a  formal waste management plan

 Have a waste management plan on how to properly manage regulated medical waste. Share your plan and goals with staff so that everyone is on the same page. Review your plan at least annually for the potential policy or process changes. Educate your staff at orientation, periodically thereafter and when policy or process revisions are made.

Not conducting waste audits

 Do periodic spot checks to see if medical waste is being disposed of correctly and that your plan is being followed. Share your findings with staff and provide retraining, if necessary.

Reduce the risks of mishandling medical waste by keeping everyone aware of the proper procedures. Always remember that until your medical waste is safely disposed of, your company is the one responsible for any fallout it may cause, so always make sure you have a  streamlined plan in place.

Powered by Froala Editor

Download Your Health Tracker & Health Report Card Template for FREE

Track your overall health, diet, treatment progress, fitness, water consumption in one place

Did you find this helpful?

More related topics

One Email, One Free Discount, One Free Delivery Every Week

We’ll Send You a Love Letter Every Week.

Get honest feedbacks and recommendations to improve your health. Plus free weekly vouchers and discounts.

Don’t Self Medicate o! Ask a Pharmacist Instead