Strategies for Waste Management and Decontamination
Caring for patients with highly hazardous communicable diseases (HHCDs) presents unique challenges in clinical as well as nonclinical activities, including the safe management of waste contaminated with infectious pathogens and appropriate decontamination of patient care areas. Medical waste generated during the care of a patient with a HHCD pose an increased risk to healthcare, environmental service, and waste-handling workers due to characteristics of HHCDs which may include high morbidity and mortality, high communicability, and low infectious dose. While all medical waste is potentially hazardous and should be handled with safety processes that limit the risk of contact and aerosol exposures, there is no margin of error for waste that is contaminated with highly infectious lethal pathogens. Medical waste contaminated with or suspected of being contaminated with a HHCD pathogen should be collected, packaged, stored, and disposed of in a manner that utilizes optimal infection control practices. The development of protocols for both ongoing and terminal decontamination of patient care areas is also an essential part of the management of the care environment for patients with HHCD.
KeywordsHighly hazardous communicable diseases Medical waste management Infection control Isolation unit Hospital decontamination Laboratory waste Medical waste transportation
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