How to Properly Package Medical Waste in 6 Simple Steps

Posted by Selin Hoboy on Mon, Nov 26, 2012 @ 10:22 AM

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The healthcare facility or business that throws away (generates) medical waste is responsible for preparing the red bag waste for pickup. This is called “packaging” medical waste. Proper packaging starts with ensuring appropriate setup, suitable types of red bags, and acceptable disposal of items in the red bag.

package medical waste

1. Set up your medical waste container.

Using corrugated boxes? Be sure to turn over and seal the bottom flaps with 2-inch wide, clear, packing tape. Or securely engage the bottom flaps of your auto-lock container. Top and bottom are distinguished by the printed arrows and text on the box. If you are using a reusable bin or tub, no setup is required.

2. Line your medical waste container with the red bag.

Use a red biohazard bag to line the inside of the container, with the 4 sides overlapping the container’s outer sides. Be sure to comply with any state-specific requirements for thickness of the red bags, etc., and be sure not to exceed the weight limitations of the container.

3. Dispose of only medical waste in the red bag.

Know what is defined as medical waste in your state. DON’T place medications, loose needles or other sharps, trash, recycling, trace chemotherapy, or pathological waste in the red medical waste bag. DO place sealed, puncture-resistant, disposable sharps containers in the red bag. Mark any pathological waste or trace chemotherapy waste for incineration and also package it separately from other red bag waste that is not destined for incineration. Fill the container, as appropriate (see #2), leaving space at the top.

4. Gather, twist, and tie the red bag.

While wearing gloves, gather the 4 edges of the red bag from the sides of the container. Twist the top of the bag to seal its contents. Secure the seal with a strong, hand-tied single or gooseneck knot to prevent any leakage if inverted. You can also use a zip tie or tape to secure the knot. Ensure that the bag is completely closed.

5. Seal your medical waste container.

For corrugated boxes, seal the top of the box with the 2-inch wide, clear packing tape. For auto-locking boxes, engage the top flaps. For reusable container, secure the lid, and engage all closures and locking.

6. Check the medical waste container’s markings.

Federal markings are shown in the picture of the box on this page. You may also need additional labeling if required by your state or local regulatory agencies. Apply the bar code label from your medical waste disposal company.  

You may have additional state and local regulatory requirements or medical waste regulations. Always follow the best practices of your facility and comply with local, state, and federal laws for medical waste disposal.

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