Autoclaves have managed to reduce a lot of the risks commonly associated with hospital waste disposal. They are used more and more in the medical industry as a more practical, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective sterilization method compared to most incinerators.
Read on to find out more about why autoclaves are so effective in treating medical waste!
What are the most common risks associated with medical waste that autoclaves can help reduce?
Any waste generated by medical facilities such as clinics or hospitals can be qualified as medical waste. Due to the nature of the environment where the generation of such waste occurs, hospital waste requires a lot stricter set of regulations compared to municipal waste. Since biomedical waste can be highly infectious and hazardous (such as genotoxic, chemical pathological, or sharps waste), it can pose huge risks towards staff and patients if not treated correctly. Not to mention any medical facility can receive huge fines if they do not have an appropriate waste management system in place.
In the worst-case scenarios, infections could spread outside the walls of the medical facility, and even damage the surrounding environment by harming the quality of soil and water supplies.
In short, hospitals and other medical facilities must fight daily to prevent healthcare-associated infections that can occur when medical waste and equipment are not rid of all potentially dangerous foreign materials such as germs, bacteria, and spores.
How do autoclaves reduce the risks of medical waste disposal?
The most basic elements required by a medical waste management system cover the usually color-coded segregation of hospital waste in special containers located in a separate area, which are then transported away to be disposed of at either landfills or incinerators, where they can be destroyed.
Autoclaves can make this process much easier and safer by sterilizing the waste right at the site of the hospital. By using high-pressure and high-temperature steam well over 100 degrees Celsius, autoclaves can destroy all infectious foreign materials present in medical waste, which can then be stored and transported away without having to worry about the spread of infections. This sterilization method serves another purpose apart from hospital waste disposal: the sterilization of medical tools which can then be reused with other patients.
Is there any difference in the treatment of medical waste by autoclaves?
Not all autoclaves are alike, and especially in the case of hospitals, they will need all the help they can get to treat medical waste.
One of the most important factors to consider is capacity: all autoclaves have a set capacity for their chamber which shows how much medical waste they can treat within one sterilization cycle. This usually lasts about 20 minutes depending on the size of the load, and the largest of autoclaves can have a capacity of up to 880 liters!
The other aspect that needs to be taken into consideration is the category of the autoclave. B class steam sterilizers represent one of the most popular choices made by hospitals, as they are the fastest, and can treat more types of loads.