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Médecine du travail du personnel hospitalier

Lowering standards of clinical waste management: do the hazardous waste regulations conflict with the CDC's universal/standard precautions?

J Hosp Infect. 2006 Apr;62(4):467-72. Epub 2006 Feb 7.
Lowering standards of clinical waste management: do the hazardous waste regulations conflict with the CDC’s universal/standard precautions?
‘Blenkharn JI.’

Clinical waste is a costly and troublesome commodity. Comprising the detritus of medical care, the foremost hazard is the risk of infection from micro-organisms present in these wastes. Infection commonly occurs through penetrating injury, the so-called ‘sharps’ or ‘needlestick’ injury, although contamination of non-intact skin or splashes to the eye may transmit infection. Bloodborne viruses (hepatitis B, hepatitis C, human immunodeficiency virus) are the most serious threat, although respiratory, soft tissue and enteric infections are not unknown. The European Hazardous Waste Directive, that harmonizes the categorization and control of wastes, permits downregulation of clinical wastes where the risk of infection may be low. Although strengthened by the requirement for risk assessment in waste classification, UK regulatory guidance promoting classification of some clinical wastes as non-hazardous completely ignores the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Universal Precautions for the prevention of transmission of human immunodeficiency virus, hepatitis B virus and other bloodborne pathogens in healthcare settings, which seek to prevent bloodborne virus infection in healthcare workers and others, and the more extensive Standard Precautions that extend these principles to the prevention of healthcare-associated infections and the environmental spread of nosocomial pathogens. By creating a potent cost driver encouraging downregulation of some clinical wastes, UK legislation based on the European Hazardous Waste Directive conflicts with the CDC’s Universal/Standard Precautions.
MeSH Terms: Animals – Cross Infection/etiology – Cross Infection/prevention & control* – Europe – Humans – Medical Waste Disposal/standards* – United States – Substances: Medical Waste Disposal

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