A pilot survey of the U.S. medical waste industry to determine training needs for safely handling highly infectious waste

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Abstract

Background:

The recent Ebola outbreak led to the development of Ebola virus disease (EVD) best practices in clinical settings. However, after the care of EVD patients, proper medical waste management and disposal was identified as a crucial component to containing the virus. Category A waste—contaminated with EVD and other highly infectious pathogens—is strictly regulated by governmental agencies, and led to only several facilities willing to accept the waste.

Methods:

A pilot survey was administered to determine if U.S. medical waste facilities are prepared to handle or transport category A waste, and to determine waste workers' current extent of training to handle highly infectious waste.

Results:

Sixty-eight percent of survey respondents indicated they had not determined if their facility would accept category A waste. Of those that had acquired a special permit, 67% had yet to modify their permit since the EVD outbreak. This pilot survey underscores gaps in the medical waste industry to handle and respond to category A waste. Furthermore, this study affirms reports a limited number of processing facilities are capable or willing to accept category A waste.

Conclusions:

Developing the proper management of infectious disease materials is essential to close the gaps identified so that states and governmental entities can act accordingly based on the regulations and guidance developed, and to ensure public safety.

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