SEATTLE, Dec. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Local activists continued to voice their objections at area hospitals this week over the practice of trucking infectious medical waste through local communities to be treated at a remote facility. The group's spokesperson Debra Pelletier said, "We are visiting area hospitals to raise awareness about the transportation of medical waste through local communities and ask for safer disposal of medical waste." Pelletier continued, "Nearly 1,000 hospitals now use on-site sterilization technologies that prevent infectious medical waste from being trucked through our neighborhoods, thus stopping the spread of infectious pathogens and preventing possible accidents and spills."
The fall 2012 issue of Inside Healthcare Magazine wrote that up until the 1990s, many hospitals managed this material on-site with an incinerator, but the EPA has since made that option uneconomic. As a result, hospitals moved to outsource the management of their infectious medical waste to an off-site hauler as a temporary solution, and thus what began as a short-term "fix" became permanent for a majority of these hospitals.
"Unfortunately, about 85% of our nation's hospitals outsource the treatment of their infectious medical waste to a remote facility often tens to hundreds of miles away forcing the hazardous materials to be put on a truck to travel through our communities and by our neighborhood schools," said Pelletier.
One area hospital, Virginia Mason, noted that they were currently conducting a medical waste audit at their facility. Pelletier noted that she is "pleased to see they were making an effort, however, the firm they are using to perform the audit is a medical waste trucking company."
A federal government report submitted to Congress earlier this year found significant savings at Veteran's Administration hospitals that utilized "on-site" sterilization technologies to treat infectious medical waste. The study showed that on-site treatment was one-third the cost of outsourcing. The report also went on to document how such on-site programs have also reduced carbon emissions at those hospitals.
SOURCE Safe Hospitals Safe Communities