Solid waste and disposal processes for isolated patients with infectious disease

Deborah A Saber, Brandon Howlett, Timothy Waterman, Lila de Tantillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

To maximize healthcare efforts toward environmental sustainability while ensuring patient and community safety, a comprehensive understanding regarding solid waste properties and disposal practices of care for infectious patients is needed. This observational study quantified the solid waste generated from two patientrooms in contact isolation for infection with methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus for 168 hours (7 days). A total of 3,322 solid waste items amounting to approximately 65 kilograms (kg) of solid waste was generated. Of this, 43% of the solid waste were attributed to personal protective equipment (PPE) used with infectious isolation procedures (e.g., gowns, packaging, non-latex gloves). In one year, total waste accumulation for one isolated patient could total approximately 1,690kg. Further study is needed to support updated isolation and solid waste disposal practices that preserve the safety of patients and healthcare personnel while considering environmental sustainability. In this article the authors review the background and significance of current, solid waste practices and the study method used to begin to inform isolation protocol changes. After presenting and discussing their findings, they note the study limitations, and offer nursing implications and solutions to promote environmental stewardship. They conclude by identifying the need for further study of unregulated solid waste disposal generated in caring for infectious patients so as to promote environmental sustainability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages1
JournalOnline Journal of Issues in Nursing
Volume23
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2018

Keywords

  • Environmental sustainability
  • Hospital solid waste
  • Hospital waste
  • Infectious waste
  • Isolation waste
  • Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus
  • Personal protective equipment waste
  • Solid waste
  • Unregulated

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects

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