home health nurse helping elderly woman

Home healthcare in the United States is experiencing a period of rapid growth and change. While providers and payers seek to improve outcomes while controlling costs, patients are receiving more advanced levels of in-home care. For example, “hospital at home” programs provide care that has traditionally required hospitalization. Industry analysts expect home infusion therapy to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 7.9% through 2030.

As the number of patients and in-home treatment options increase, so does the need for medical waste management and disposal in the home healthcare setting. Medical wastes generated during home healthcare include sharps waste, pharmaceutical wastes, trace chemotherapy wastes, and other regulated medical wastes (RMW).

Sharps Compliance is an all-inclusive provider for the home healthcare industry. We offer mailback systems for medical and pharmaceutical wastes and other products/services to help home health agencies and their patients stay safe and comply with disposal regulations.

Home Infusion and RMW Disposal

Home infusion therapy allows patients to receive treatments at home through the intravenous or subcutaneous delivery of drugs or biologicals. Medical wastes created during home infusion may include:

  • Syringes
  • Medication cassettes
  • Tubing
  • Items contaminated with trace chemo waste

Our Sharps Recovery Systems provide a convenient way for home infusion patients to safely manage wastes generated during infusion. Patients place the used syringes and other medical wastes into the puncture-proof containers and return full containers via the included prepaid packaging via USPS.

The two-gallon Sharps Recovery Systems for Trace Chemo is a regulatory-compliant solution for collecting, transporting, tracking, and treating syringes, tubing, empty vials, and other items contaminated with trace amounts of chemotherapy or other cytotoxic drugs or chemicals.

We also offer medical waste management solutions for home infusion pharmacies and asset management services for home infusion providers. Learn more about our home infusion solutions.

Medical Waste Solutions for Home Health Providers

Examples of medical waste generated during home healthcare visits include:

  • Used PPE
  • Bandages and dressings contaminated with blood or other body fluids
  • Used sharps
  • Glucose strips
  • Swabs used for wound care
  • Tongue depressors

Your nurses can use our Sharps Recovery Systems to safely collect and transport small quantities of RMW. The containers come in sizes ranging from one quart to two gallons and allow for proper disposal of sharps and small amounts of medical wastes.

Note: these containers should only be used for sharps and small quantities of regulated medical waste (red bag wastes), not regular trash. Regulated medical waste disposal costs are up to 10 times higher than costs for regular trash.

Medication Mailback Systems for Home Health Patients

With the TakeAway Medication Recovery System envelopes, patients can dispose of unused/unwanted medications in the privacy of their own homes. With the TakeAway Systems, users simply place the medicine (Schedules II-V only and non-controlled) into the addressed, prepaid envelope and return it via USPS for DEA-compliant destruction at our treatment facility.

Our medication mailback systems help protect the environment by keeping potentially harmful pharmaceuticals out of landfills and water supplies. Just as important, they help prevent drug diversion. Many opioid abusers became addicted after family/friends shared unused opioid medications. Theft is also a concern when opioids are kept in the home, so it’s important to keep medications in a secure place (not the medicine cabinet!) and safely dispose of unused opioids.

We encourage home healthcare providers to discuss the importance of safe storage and disposal of all medications with patients.

Regulatory Compliance Made Easier

Federal regulations treat wastes generated during home healthcare as “household waste.” However, states are free to impose stricter rules for medical wastes generated in the home setting – and many do. In some states, home healthcare providers are responsible for the disposal of medical wastes generated during treatment visits. Other states require special handling and/or containers for sharps waste placed in household trash containers.

Home health providers should be familiar with local regulations and guidelines so they can stay compliant and advise their patients on local requirements and disposal options/opportunities.

Sharps Compliance can help you understand and comply with applicable regulations since state medical waste regulations differ. Our regulatory experts keep track of all additions and changes, so we can help keep your employees and patients safe and compliant.

Through our online training and compliance system, ComplianceTrac, we can also help you provide required employee training, manage OSHA documentation, maintain safety data sheets, and conduct internal compliance audits.

Call us at 800.772.5657 to learn more about our custom medical waste management solutions for home healthcare providers. You can also request an online quote. Our sales, support, and regulatory teams are ready to help you solve problems and comply with all applicable regulatory requirements.

Wanda Voigt holds a BA in Nursing from Texas Woman’s University and a BBA in Business Management from Texas A&M University. In Fall 2021, Wanda will begin her Master Jurisprudence in Health Law and Policy at Texas A&M University. Wanda has over 20 years of clinical practice in both hospital and private practice practicing in various specialties.

As the Director of Regulatory Compliance, Wanda assists Sharps’ customers in evaluating current federal and state-specific medical and pharmaceutical waste regulations, implementing compliant regulated medical and pharmaceutical waste management programs and processes, and developing training programs for both internal and external customers.

published in Medical Waste