Is It the Flu?

Flu? Ebola? Enterovirus 68? The fall of 2014 is presenting unique challenges to Americans everywhere as people try to determine if they have a cold, the flu, or even the first symptoms of Ebola. Scheduling time to discuss this with a healthcare professional will help to determine what exactly a person is at risk for, what prevention methods are recommended, diagnosis of the disease based on symptoms, what treatment to use, and even development of a plan to keep you, friends, and family healthy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months of age and older get an annual flu shot1. People at high-risk, such as those with heart conditions, diabetes, and asthma, as well as pregnant women and people over the age of 65 need to get their annual flu shot to potentially avoid getting seriously ill from complications of influenza. For more information on the flu vaccine, click here.

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Medication Disposal for Long-Term Care Facilities — Including Controlled Substances

On September 9, 2014, the Department of Justice published the final rules for the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 allowing proper controlled substance disposal. The regulations go into effect October 9, 2014. The amended rules (found here) allow registered collectors, such as closed-door and retail pharmacies to place receptacles in long-term care facilities to collect and dispose of controlled substances (Schedules II-V). Before the rule update, solutions for disposal in long-term care facilities were minimal and often messy and environmentally unsustainable.

Flushing Medications

Flushing controlled substances, while acceptable in some states, should be avoided as the long-term effects of pharmaceuticals in rivers and streams are unknown. In 2008, the Associated Press found pharmaceuticals in the drinking water of 24 major metropolitan water supplies. Other studies have shown changes in aquatic life such as gender changes in fish, due to pharmaceuticals in the water.

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When Lighting Goes Dark — Fluorescent Bulb Recycling

Eventually those long fluorescent light bulbs that have been flickering in the ceiling for months will burn out, and when they do, don’t throw them into the dumpster or dispose of them as hazardous waste. Instead, recycle them as Universal Waste. Fluorescent bulbs, including compact florescent lamps (CFLs) or u-shaped lamps and other high intensity discharge (HID) lamps, contain the hazardous material mercury and thus are regulated by the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) under the Universal Waste Rule. The EPA created the Universal Waste Rule for certain wastes that are generated in a wide variety of settings including homes and businesses, and are able to have their hazardous components removed for the purpose of recycling. The Universal Waste Rule encourages proper disposal and limits the burdens of storage, handling, treatment, and recordkeeping associated with other types of hazardous waste.

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Who is Maintaining Your Medical Waste?

I don’t have time to close up and label the medical waste box
– so the medical waste transport driver does it.

This is a statement often uttered by busy employees responsible for managing their facility’s medical waste. Whether using a pickup service or mailing medical waste, only properly trained persons at the generating facility should package, label, and sign the tracking form for the waste shipment. That does not include a pickup service driver or untrained facility employee.

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Part Three: What’s Going into that Red Bag?

Reducing Your Medical Waste Through RightClassificationSM – Part Three

In the first 2 parts (part 1, part 2) of this series, we defined Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) and discussed how it was regulated, contained and disposed. In the final part of this series, we will discuss what a facility can specifically do to reduce its volume of RMW through proper segregation (RightClassificationSM) and therefore reduce spending.

1. Review your policy.
Your medical waste management plan can be included as a part of your Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure Control Plan or it can be maintained as a separate policy document. Regardless, make sure RMW is clearly defined and employees are able to access your policy for clear guidance. For example, if your policy defines RMW as “blood and other body fluids” instead of “blood and OPIM” (with the definition of OPIM included), employees and even trainers may become confused. In addition, you must follow what your policy states. So make sure your policy is not forcing you to “wrong classify” your waste and spend more money than necessary.

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