Hospital waste dumped in public area, contractor blamed

Date: 
Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - 09:45

he St Au­gus­tine Pri­vate Med­ical Hos­pi­tal is now fac­ing a probe by the Min­istry of Health af­ter med­ical waste from the in­sti­tu­tion was found dumped at Psalm Dri­ve, off St John’s Road, St Au­gus­tine, yes­ter­day morn­ing.

How­ev­er, an of­fi­cial from the in­sti­tu­tion who spoke anony­mous­ly told the T&T Guardian yes­ter­day blamed a con­trac­tor for the in­ci­dent, say­ing they were in charge of the hos­pi­tal’s waste dis­pos­al.

The pri­vate con­trac­tor, the of­fi­cial said, was sup­posed to take all of the hos­pi­tal’s “garbage” to the Beetham land­fill but clear­ly did “his own thing” yes­ter­day.

“When the garbage left here, un­for­tu­nate­ly, it was not known to us where it was be­ing dis­posed of, oth­er than the agreed des­ti­na­tion. But we will be launch­ing our own in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions in­to it and we have al­ready called in the con­trac­tor to get to the bot­tom of it,” the of­fi­cial said.

The of­fi­cial re­vealed the in­sti­tu­tion’s gen­er­al man­ag­er, Dr Di­nesh Ariyanayagam, was called to a meet­ing af­ter pho­tographs of the waste at the site, which was dis­cov­ered by CEPEP work­ers on du­ty in the area, be­gan cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial me­dia.

Calls to the hos­pi­tal’s med­ical di­rec­tor, Dr Ajit Au­dit, were un­suc­cess­ful.

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, around 7 am CEPEP work­ers car­ry­ing out du­ties in St Au­gus­tine, dis­cov­ered the med­ical waste, which in­clud­ed sy­ringes, gloves, plas­tic bags filled with used and la­belled med­ical items, dumped at the site.

The truck which dumped the waste was re­port­ed­ly still at the scene, ac­cord­ing to CEPEP chair­man As­ton Ford.

Ford told the T&T Guardian said a meet­ing was held with CEPEP gen­er­al man­ag­er Kei­th Ed­dy and the health and safe­ty de­part­ment vis­it­ed the site to con­duct its own in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

He said work­ers were not al­lowed to touch such ma­te­ri­als when en­coun­tered so they can safe­guard ev­i­dence.

Chief Med­ical Dr Roshan Paras­ram, though not want­i­ng to pre­empt the find­ings of in­ves­ti­ga­tions, said there was some leg­is­la­tion un­der which le­gal ac­tion can be tak­en for such an act.

The leg­is­la­tion in­cludes the Lit­ter Act, Pub­lic Health Or­di­nance and the Pri­vate Hos­pi­tals’ Act. The of­fices of the Chief Pub­lic Health In­spec­tor and Chief Coun­ty Med­ical Of­fi­cer of Health for St George East will be in charge of the probe.

Paras­ram said he would wait on the re­port and once the in­for­ma­tion is re­layed a course of ac­tion go­ing for­ward will be made pub­lic.

Right way to dis­pose of med­ical waste

Six types of med­ical waste ex­ist that must be dis­posed of prop­er­ly, in­clud­ing sharps, bio­haz­ard, trace chemo, RCRA haz­ard, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and ra­dioac­tive.

Each type has its own colour-cod­ed bin for stor­age at a med­ical fa­cil­i­ty.

For ex­am­ple, bio­med­ical waste dis­pos­al starts out in a red con­tain­er at the med­ical fa­cil­i­ty. This in­cludes in­fec­tious waste, blood prod­ucts, con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed per­son­al pro­tec­tive equip­ment, IV tub­ing, cul­tures and stacks.

Trace chemo goes in­to yel­low con­tain­ers and may in­clude emp­ty vials, am­pules, emp­ty sy­ringes and nee­dles, emp­ty IVs, gowns, gloves, tub­ing, aprons, wipes and pack­ag­ing.

It may seem as if though most any­thing that leaves med­ical fa­cil­i­ties is reg­u­lat­ed med­ical waste.

How­ev­er, on­ly 10 to 25 per cent is reg­u­lat­ed med­ical waste that needs prop­er med­ical waste dis­pos­al.

The rest is pa­per and oth­er prod­uct that doesn’t come in­to con­tact with pa­tients.

The WHO cat­e­goris­es this as gen­er­al waste. It doesn’t have any risk to hu­man health since it is nev­er in con­tact with blood or oth­er body flu­ids.

Med­ical per­son­nel must dis­pose of med­ical waste in colour-cod­ed con­tain­ers.

Med­ical waste must be stored in a se­cure area where the gen­er­al pub­lic doesn’t have ac­cess to it. It must al­so be kept sep­a­rate from ar­eas that are reg­u­lat­ed for food con­sump­tion.

The se­cure area must al­so have a re­frig­er­a­tor or a freez­er for med­ical waste that must be kept be­low cer­tain tem­per­a­tures.

Once a bio­haz­ard waste dis­pos­al com­pa­ny picks up the med­ical waste, it trans­ports and treats it based on cer­tain reg­u­la­tions by OS­HA and oth­er agen­cies that may con­trol med­ical waste reg­u­la­tions.

Treat­ment varies de­pend­ing on the type of med­ical waste, thus it is im­por­tant to keep waste in the ap­pro­pri­ate colour-cod­ed re­cep­ta­cles. Some waste may be in­cin­er­at­ed and some may be treat­ed by ir­ra­di­a­tion, au­to­clav­ing or chem­i­cal meth­ods.

Once the waste has been treat­ed and deemed non-haz­ardous, it is then dis­posed of ac­cord­ing to sol­id waste dis­pos­al reg­u­la­tions. Flu­ids are so­lid­i­fied, thus they be­come sol­id waste. Some flu­ids may be dis­posed of in­to a san­i­tary sew­er sys­tem, which is sep­a­rate from the gen­er­al sew­er sys­tem. (www.med­waste­ser­vice.com)

Reporter: Bobie-Lee Dixon

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