All About Pharmaceutical Waste Management in Hospitals


Apart from spillage of liquid medication and contamination of the room, a health care facility may have to take care of multiple other wastes including those generated from pharmaceutical products. Most facilities have pharmacies operating within the premises with research facilities and compounding units working with varied chemicals that may be hazardous to health. Pharmaceutical waste management in hospitals is thus an entire category altogether but as important as taking care of health concerns of its employees along with the patients and visitors.

What is pharmaceutical waste?

Any waste products generated during the treatment of ailments inside a medical facility are regarded to be of pharmaceutical origin. The items that are classified as pharmaceutical waste may include the following:

  • Chemical products used for treatment or therapy
  • Expired or partially used vaccines, medicinal drugs, and foils with remnants of the chemicals
  • Bottles, vials, syringes, and other containers used to hold the drugs
  • Protective gear such as gloves, caps, gowns, and masks worn by care providers and/or medical professionals

Medicinal drugs manufactured by biotechnology may also be classified as pharmaceutical or biopharmaceutical waste

Importance of Pharmaceutical waste management

Improper handling of such wastes will not only pollute the environment and contaminate water but may jeopardize public safety as well. Failing to comply with the safety regulations at the local and state level may compel you to pay a huge sum of money as a penalty and suffer a loss of reputation in addition.

Stages of Pharmaceutical waste management

Segregation– It is normal for the janitors to collect all waste products from the room of patients, doctors’ chambers, ER, OR, and therapy rooms apart from common areas. Retaining them in trash containers is a strict no-no though. You must direct your staff to segregate the waste according to the hazard level. You must be particularly careful about not mixing the biohazardous and pharmaceutical waste.

Managing Controlled Substances– It is vital to separate the opiates and benzodiazepines and contact the “Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)” for handling the waste so that it gets disposed of as per the standards. These drugs are known to be addictive and have the power of putting the users at risk. No worries! The DEA authorities will provide the required guidance and handle the paperwork for you.

Disposal of trace chemotherapy waste-Clothing and equipment used for chemotherapy may be toxic to the body despite being present in a small quantity. You must be aware of the protocols and follow them rigorously. It is important to store such waste substances in color-coded containers that have been labelled accurately. Feel free to check FDA’s safety standards and then source the right containers.

Removal of hazardous waste– You may check the list of hazardous chemicals/drugs from The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) sources. Retain these waste substances in a black-colored container as advised by the authorities.

Understandably, you may not have the time to attend to the nitty-gritty. Make sure to contact a licensed company that provides all services related to proper pharmaceutical waste management in hospitals.


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