Improper Medical Waste Disposal Puts Staff at Risk: Survey

Improper disposal of medical waste has negative health and environmental impacts.

By Jeff Wardon, Jr., Assistant Editor

Healthcare facilities managers face many issues every day, whether it's staffing shortages or seemingly endless cyberattacks. One area of concern that often goes unnoticed by staff and patients: medical waste disposal. 

Ninety-five percent of healthcare professionals say they agree that improper medical waste disposal puts their physical safety at risk, according to Stericycle’s 2023 Healthcare Workplace Safety Trend Report. Only 33 percent of those surveyed strongly agree that they understand their facility’s handling of medical waste.  

“Improper handling and disposal are recognized as a major concern, which can negatively impact both the safety of workers and patients, but a shortage of personnel is hindering the possibility of top-quality care,” according to the report. 

Related: Medical Waste Becomes More Worrisome for Healthcare Professionals

Over 90 percent of the healthcare professionals surveyed agreed that the improper disposal of medical or biohazardous waste can harm the environment. Improper disposal can also impact well-being and health. 

The report also found that: 

  • 37 percent of healthcare professionals do not believe their organizations do enough to lessen the harmful impacts of improper disposal. 
  • 60 percent of those surveyed do not believe their organizations have innovative practices related to medical waste disposal. 
  • 59 percent of survey respondents do not believe their organizations have enough staff and financial resources for proper disposal.  

Jeff Wardon, Jr. is the assistant editor for the facilities market. 

March 6, 2024

Topic Area: Maintenance and Operations , Sustainable Operations

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