Medical Waste Becomes More Worrisome for Healthcare Professionals

Nine in 10 healthcare providers believe improper medical waste disposal greatly impacts patient health and safety.

By HFT Staff
December 7, 2022

Ninety-four percent of healthcare providers and administrators believe improper medical waste disposal greatly impacts patient health and safety and puts the physical safety of providers at risk – a 23 percent increase from 2021, according to a new report. Stericycle Inc. released its second annual Healthcare Workplace Safety Trend Report revealing insights into healthcare workers' perspectives on health and safety in their work environments. 

Industry growth and the changing landscape of infectious diseases is driving a significant transformation of healthcare and creating new challenges to overcome. The study aimed to better understand healthcare provider and administrator perspectives on those challenges to help healthcare organizations improve workplace safety standards and create a quality care environment for providers and their patients. 

The report also found that healthcare providers have an increased desire for more training, tools and resources around regulated and pharmaceutical waste management (79 percent, up from 56 percent in 2021), at-home care disposal (91 percent) and managing difficult patients (72 percent). Providers and administrators also see a clear connection between their workplace's sustainable environmental practices and the overall health of the community and positive patient outcomes. 

Additional  insights from the report include these: 

  • Healthcare Professionals Remain Stressed and Burnt-out. While stress levels decreased from 2021, they remain high with 58 percent of providers still noting their day-to-day stress level has worsened in the past year, citing increasing workloads, longer hours and decreasing staff as the largest stress contributors. More than one quarter feel unmotivated (34 percent), have trouble concentrating (28 percent) and are concerned about their physical safety (25 percent). 
  • Effective Healthcare Environments Require Medical Waste Management. Both providers (93 percent) and administrators (84 percent) agree that medical waste management is important to delivering the best possible care to patients. Most providers (94 percent) also stated that the absence of proper regulated medical and biohazardous waste disposal puts the physical safety of healthcare workers at risk, an increase of 12 percent from 2021. 
  • Medical Waste Critically Impacts Communities. Ninety-five percent of healthcare providers and administrators agree that improper medical and biohazardous waste management is harmful to the environment, and more than one-half of providers (56 percent) and administrators (67 percent) reported they think about the environmental impacts of regulated medical and biohazardous waste often. This environmental and community concern includes drug diversion, where 53 percent of providers agree that improperly disposed of pharmaceutical waste is one of the biggest contributors to the opioid epidemic. 


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