There’s generally more waste generated during flu season and that means a need for more and larger containers, and more frequent ordering and disposal schedules. Based on record-high influenza numbers in Australia, where flu season just wrapped up, U.S. health officials are bracing for a similar situation in the 2017-2018 season.
Rules for medical waste disposal during flu season: The general rules still apply. Use gloves and wash hands when handling and emptying open waste containers. Also, label and treat medical waste following the same guidelines as year-round protocols.
Disposing of unused flu vaccines: In general, providers should check manufacturers’ instructions for how to dispose of unused flu vaccines. For the 2017-2018 flu season, manufacturers include Merck, Sanofi, and GSK, among others. However, since most flu vaccine instructions don’t list specific disposal instructions, it may be necessary to contact the manufacturer directly.
Always wash hands: Flu patients will throw disposable tissues into the trash as they are not considered medical waste. So take care when emptying regular waste using gloves.
Use larger containers for medical waste disposal: During flu season, expect more medical waste. Prepare for it by ordering larger waste containers on a more frequent schedule. This includes bigger sharps containers. Also, make sure medical waste disposal containers are in easy reach, and emptied more frequently.
Color coding containers: This is standard practice year round, but it’s particularly important during flu season. Clearly-marked, color coded receptacles are less likely to be confused with non-regulated trash.
In general, health care workers can dispose of medical waste during flu season the same way they do at other times of year. However, a higher volume of waste during flu months means more waste. Make sure the disposal of waste is made as convenient as possible for your employees.
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