Medical Waste Disposal in the View of Ebola Outbreak

The opinions are split when it comes to evaluating our country's preparedness for a potential Ebola outbreak. According to a recent study, 56 percent of Americans think that U.S. is prepared to handle and contain this potentially deadly virus. How confident is your medical facility in the ability to deal with an Ebola patient, however unlikely it may seem for your practice? The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas was not prepared enough, which resulted in a loss of a patient and two staff members who contracted Ebola. From proper personal protective gear to patient isolation and medical waste disposal, there are many protocols to follow when it comes to containing the spread of a deadly virus such as Ebola. And considering the copious amounts of medical waste generated during care for such patients, Ebola-contaminated waste disposal might be one of the biggest challenges for medical facilities. It's crucial to have a plan and a local medical waste collector who can provide reliable Ebola waste removal services.

ebola medical waste management

Types of Medical Waste From Ebola Patients

Emory University Hospital in Atlanta was the first institution to care for Ebola patients in the U.S. As one of its doctors shared, at the peak of the disease, the facility generated 40 bags of medical waste a day! And here is where it all comes from.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

There are different types of PPE that should be used by medical personnel during contact with an Ebola patient. Make sure your staff knows how to properly apply and safely remove the following protective gear:

  • disposable gloves
  • fluid-resistant gown
  • goggles or face shield
  • face mask
  • hood and neck covering
  • protective body suit
  • fluid-resistant leg and shoe coverings

Waste From Cleaning & Disinfecting

CDC recommend daily cleaning and disinfecting of hard, non-porous surfaces in the patient's room. This may include floors, counters, bed rails, tables, etc. While disinfectants were designed to deactivate the virus, these procedures may still produce potentially contaminated waste, such as:

  • cleaning and mop clothes
  • wipes
  • empty cleaning product containers
  • gloves and other PPE

Patient Care Waste

Ebola is transmitted through contaminated bodily fluids, mainly blood, feces, saliva, urine and vomit. The course of the disease and its specific symptoms make it easy for these fluids to come in contact with unprotected healthy individuals. It starts with flu-like symptoms, including fever, muscle aches and headache, then comes diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain. Internal and external bleeding (out of ears, nose or eyes) is also common in Ebola patients. Administering treatments and maintaining hygiene of such patients involves large amounts of contaminated waste, such as:

  • patient's personal belongings
  • bed linens and privacy curtains
  • syringes, scalpels and other sharps
  • patient care equipment
  • patient gowns
  • portable toilets
  • stained or soiled bandages
  • lab testing materials

CDC recommends using a “buddy system” when caring for patients, as well as putting on and removing PPE. This way medical staff can supervise each other to make sure all protocols are followed correctly.  

Proper Disposal of Ebola Medical Waste

Hazardous Material Regulations (HMR) developed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) classifies the Ebola virus as a Category A infections substance. When transported to the site of deactivation, all contaminated items should be treated according to the HMR. This is the part that BWS will handle for you safely and responsibly. You just need to do your part and ensure proper collection and storage of Ebola medical waste by following CDC's recommendations and DOT's requirements. According to HMR, a Category A substance such as Ebola virus is different from regulated medical waste. Due to the high risk of contamination and potentially deadly outcomes, “more stringent packaging” should be used for Ebola-contaminated waste when transportation is involved.

DOT requires triple-packing Category A waste before transportation in:

(1) A primary plastic film bag with added EPA-registered disinfectant for non-enveloped virus. After the bag is sealed, the bag's exterior should also be disinfected. (2) A secondary plastic film bag that is also disinfected from the outside and has added absorbent material to contain the liquid in case of a spill. (3) A rigid UN Standard or DOT Approved non-bulk packaging also disinfected from the outside. CDC, on the other hand, doesn't require such packaging when the contaminated waste is collected. The two agencies are currently discussing how to bridge this gap and come up with consistent regulations for Ebola waste disposal. Meanwhile, CDC suggests that on-site incineration or autoclaving can be used to deactivate the virus. In this case, the deactivated virus can be packaged and transported as regulated medical waste, as it's no longer infectious. Whenever possible, CDC recommends using disposable items during care for Ebola patients, as well as collecting waste at the point of generation, which is inside the patient's room.  

Is Your Medical Waste Collector Prepared to Handle Ebola Waste?

You could be doing your part in following safety protocols and Ebola waste packaging regulations, but is your medical waste vendor ready to pick up this dangerous cargo? At BWS, we are fully prepared to handle infections waste and have taken extra measures to ensure the safety of both our staff and your personnel during collection and transportation.

To Better Serve You:

  • We created a plan that outlines procedures and safeguards for handling of highly infectious waste.
  • We expanded our Infection Control protocol to include extensive uniform cleaning, safe uniform removal procedures and instructions for our drivers to have a clean set of clothes in event of contamination.
  • We increased the frequency for changing gloves and hand sanitizing after each pickup.

BWS is currently in the process of obtaining the special DOT permit #16279 to be able to handle pure Ebola waste. Meanwhile, if you have an on-site autoclave or incinerator, we can transport deactivated Ebola waste as UN 3291 regulated medical waste. BWS provides comprehensive infectious waste disposal services to over 7,000 generators in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. Contact BWS today to discuss how we can help!

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“Our office has been utilizing the services of Biomedical Waste Services, Inc. (BWS) for well over a decade. Their caring, dedicated, and professional team have made it an absolute pleasure to do business with. They are always prompt and courteous in providing whatever service we ask of them. We highly recommend them for your practice!!”

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“My review from 2019: Still using BWS and still think they're great! My review from 2016: We've been doing business with BWS for a few years now, and their service and pricing are great. We previously used a company who provides the same service in our area but overcharged us for years. I would definitely recommend BWS to anyone in the market for waste disposal at a great price with excellent service.”

“I have fantastic very dependable experience using BWS. I have used them weekly for the last 17 years in my dental practice. There always on the day that they're supposed to be, there's never been an issue with any of the invoices.”

Akbar Masood, D.D.S.

“BWS has been handling our biohazardous waste disposal for three years. They have always been helpful and dependable. I recommend them to all who need biohazardous waste disposal services.”

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Tomicka Jackson-George, D.M.D.

“I've used BWS for several years now. Their service is great and their fees are very reasonable, making BWS a great value in hazardous waste removal.”

Louis Sachs, D.D.S.

“Professional and always on time! Great service!”

Kate Blair English

“Great option for healthcare waste management. BWS is an independent owned professional organization that is built on integrity and trust. There is no other company in the region that I'd recommend more. Most others say the right things the folks at BWS do the right thing. I'll continue to recommend them.”

Dave Ryan

We are a medical practice in a new location and needed hazardous waste removal services. We have been so pleased with the level of service and professionalism on both the admin and field work end of BWS services, and their pricing is fair and flexible. We would highly recommend them to any medical practice in need of these services.

Kerry Owens, Avalon Plastic Surgery

Every staff member that I have interacted with has been very friendly. They are quick to respond to emails and do a great job.

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Excellent company. Received notification that I was on schedule, showed up as promised, and very professional service from office to driver. Excellent service!!!

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Great service! They are always responsive and ready to help. 100% recommended.

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They were responsive and quickly start services. They were also great at answering all my questions and updating on when services would start.

Rebecca Crouse, Randolph Macon Academy

We used BWS for sharps disposal at a doctor's office. I saw their bright truck in the parking lot at work which lead me to call for a quote. They responded to my inquiry quickly and thoroughly, answering all my questions. They gave me pricing that was very reasonable, and lower than many companies I checked. They were a pleasure to communicate with via phone and email, no phone tag! The truck arrived the day and time we planned. The driver was very personable and easy to communicate with. The people I interacted with seem to understand the value of customer service. I would highly recommend them. They will take care of you.

Melissa C, Patriot Chiropractic

Excellent, professional service and very reasonable price on medical waste removal. Danielle was fantastic to work with - thanks Danielle!

Dr. Rosario Ignacio

Reliable and affordable

Dr. Thomas Lutz, Odenton Family Dentistry

I've used BWS for several years now. Their service is great and their fees are very reasonable, making BWS a great value in hazardous waste removal. Over the 20+ years that I have used them the scope of their services has increased as well as making documentation of their service easier to use!

Dr. Louis Sachs, DDS

I ran a dental charity for many years, organizing huge clinics to treat those in need. BWS donated their waste disposal services for every clinic for many years, and they continue to do so to this day. This is always a huge job, and they are always reliable, dedicated, and fun to work with. They know what it means to give back.

Eric B.

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