Quality America

OSHA Watch Question of the Month - Nov/Dec 2003

Nov/Dec Question of the Month: How do we dispose of large quantities of suctioned patient body fluids?

We searched countless government sources to find out how to legally dispose of suction canister contents and came up with two viable options. We also learned that most healthcare facilities simply flush them into the sanitary sewer, which by itself is an OSHA violation, since healthcare workers could be splashed with aerosolized infectious fluids. Neither option is perfect, but...

Option 1: Use a product that solidifies the suction canister contents so that they can be disposed of with red-bagged waste. The downsides to this approach are the high disposal cost of high-volume, heavy red-bag waste and eliminating the reuse of canisters.

Option 2: Wearing mask, gloves and gown, flush bulk-suctioned body fluids into the sanitary sewer, but check with your local wastewater treatment plant to see if there are quantity limitations. Treat suctioned fluids with several ounces of household bleach for about 5 minutes before disposal to reduce their infectivity. Rather than using the sink or toilet, have a "hopper" installed if your facility generates large quantities of these fluids. Never dispose of these fluids in handwashing sinks!

Posted by Quality America on December 20, 2005 | Comments (0)


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  • About Dr. Dunn

Dr. Sheila Dunn is president and CEO of Quality America, Inc., a health care consulting firm located in Asheville, NC. She holds a doctoral degree in medical
laboratory education, and is a widely
respected lecturer and author of more than 200 articles on practice management and regulatory compliance issues for the primary care medical market.
(More about Dr. Dunn)

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