Types of Waste in Medical Facilities

Waste management is of paramount importance in medical facilities like hospitals, nursing homes, dental colleges, veterinary hospitals, laboratories etc. According to the World Health Organization medical waste can classified into the following categories-infectious, sharps, pathological, radioactive, and pharmaceutical and others. Medical waste can also be subdivided into clinical waste which is biohazardous, cytotoxic waste and pharmaceutical waste.

Infectious waste

It has the potential of causing infections or diseases in human beings so they should be handled with care. It is also often referred to as pathological waste as it contains pathogens. It includes animal or human tissue like blood, serum, skin, sweat and urine. Examples of such wastes are blood soaked bandages, cultures, discarded gloves and swabs used for inoculating cultures that is not handled by janitorial services.


Sharps are objects with sharp edges or points that can lacerate or puncture the skin like syringes, needles, discarded surgical instruments such as lancets, scalpels, culture dishes etc.

They are usually collected and transported for waste management in leak and puncture proof containers. This is done to ensure complete safety in case the syringes or other sharp instruments contain clinical fluid. The containers have a flip lid and are marked with special stickers for clear identification.

Hazardous waste

It is detrimental for human health in non-infectious ways. It basically includes chemicals, both medical and industrial and sharps. Old drugs which have expired also fall under this category. However, some hazardous waste can also be included under infectious waste depending upon the usage and exposure to animal and human tissue before it can be discarded.

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