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One Drop of Blood

Q: Do cotton balls or bandages with only a drop of blood need to go in the biohazardous waste bag? How about used exam gloves?

A: None of these items need to be disposed in a biohazardous waste bag. OSHA's criteria for "regulated" waste includes only items that are contaminated with enough blood or other potentially infectious body fluid such that it would drip when compressed or squeezed. Some medical offices, however, exceed OSHA's requirements and choose to put any item that is contaminated with any amount of blood or potentially infectious body fluid into the biohazardous waste. While this practice is easier for staff to follow, it also is an expensive option because of excess biohazardous waste pickup. Whichever criteria you choose to adopt in your office, be sure that your biohazardous waste practices are exactly as specified in your current OSHA manual.

Need help with OSHA compliance? Ask Dr. Dunn or browse our helpful osha manuals & compliance programs.

Posted by Quality America on December 30, 2005 | Comments (2)


Do we have to expell all fluid from cartridges (ie anesthetic)prior to throwing the crtridge away?

Posted by: Tina at May 24, 2006 05:38 PM

The cartridge and any remaining fluid should be deposited into your sharps container and treated as biohazardous waste. Published research shows there is a blood reflux into the cartridge during dental anesthesia. The study included 7 kinds of syringes and 4 types of cartridges. The researchers concluded that blood reflux cannot be avoided in the cartridge system. Therefore the solution, which could be reasonably expected to drip from the cartridge, is considered biohazardous waste.

Source: Blood reflux into cartridge in dental anesthesia. Detection of total protein and human hemoglobin in residual anesthetic solution. Nippon Shishubyo Gakkai Kaishi. 1988 Dec;30(4):1116-21.

Posted by: Sarah Alholm at May 25, 2006 04:41 PM

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