Hospitals face serious challenges in effective handling of medical wastes. However, modern healthcare facilities have adopted new method of handling medical wastes. King Fahad Medical City (KFMC) shall adopt the Pneumatic Waste Transport System in order to replace old methods of medical waste management.
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Medical wastes have both occupational and environmental challenges. There are various forms of medical wastes that the hospital must handle effective in order to reduce their harmful effects.
Problems of waste management mainly involve disposal and potential risks, emerging technology, treatment, and disposal, regulatory requirements, and costs of managing such wastes.
The Pneumatic Waste Transport System can address such challenges by providing cost-effective method of waste management, safe and healthier processes, operational efficiency, separation of wastes because of load stations, and enhance sustainability of the environment.
The system is feasible based on experiences from hospitals that have implemented it. Moreover, most cities also use this system to manage urban wastes. Its sustainability and feasibility are evident in management of the environment and costs of maintenance and repair.
However, the initial costs of implementing the project may be high. Besides, workers may also not support the new system of waste management because people tend to resist change during its implementation.
Effective implementation of the system requires transformational and collaborative leadership abilities in order to facilitate the use of the system by many workers. At the same time, evaluation of the system during the implementation period shall also ensure that the system achieves its desired objectives.
Salient characteristics of King Fahad Medical City
King Fahad Medical City is at the heart of Riyadh city. This is the most advanced and largest medical facility in the Middle East with 1095 bed capacities. The main hospital has 459 beds and caters for patients of different medical conditions. The facility also has a rehabilitation center that has 159 beds.
The rehabilitation center provides inpatient, day, and outpatient rehabilitation services. In the children section, the hospital has 246 beds, whereas the maternity ward has 236 beds. KFMC also has intensive care units with other completely equipped operating facilities.
Based on such numbers of patients, KFMC generates many waste materials. Such conditions can lead to rapid spread of diseases and infections. The hospital has five categories of waste and refuse, which it must handle with utmost care in order to promote health and safety of all stakeholders.
First, there are infectious and pathological wastes from KFMC. These wastes may harbor viruses, bacteria, and other forms of parasites that can affect other people at the hospital.
Such wastes include anything that has been in touch to bodily fluids, blood, cultures from the laboratory, or any material that has been in contact with infectious elements. Pathological wastes include bodily parts like organs, fetuses, and tissues.
These forms of wastes make up about 15 percent of all the waste and refuse materials from hospitals.
Second, KFMC also has sharp wastes. These wastes consist of needles, broken glasses, scalpels, and other sharp objects from the hospital that can pierce skin or cuts.
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Moreover, such wastes may also be in contact with the bodily fluids. Thus, sharp wastes may also be infectious wastes. They form about one percent of all wastes from the hospital.
Third, KFMC has pharmaceutical wastes. These are mainly drugs, chemicals, vaccines, and medications that the hospital has used, expired, spilled, or contaminated. Gloves are also a part of these wastes. Pharmaceutical wastes account for three percent of the hospital wastes.
Fourth, the hospital also has radioactive wastes. This form of waste is in oncological or cancer wards because that is where physicians use radiation for treating cancer. It forms less than one percent of wastes from the facility.
Finally, there are also general wastes from the hospital. This category consists of any other wastes we encounter at homes. They include cutlery, office materials, and linens among others. General wastes are about 80 percent of all wastes from the hospital.
KFMC serves many patients and in turn generates a large volume of medical wastes for disposal. A waste management approach like incineration cannot handle such loads of wastes effectively.
In addition, such an approach results into environmental pollution because of soot from burning, as well as other emissions that may be health hazard to the hospital populations.
Incineration also consumes a lot of time. Therefore, the hospital needs a new approach to waste management – the Pneumatic Waste Transport System.
The problem solving method
There are four areas related to hospital waste management. These are:
- Handling of medical wastes and potential occupational risks
- Current technologies, treatment, and disposal issues
- Regulatory and current practices and challenges
- Cost challenges
Definition of issues and statement of the problem to be addressed by the innovation
Potential risks and challenges from medical wastes are not clear. However, we have both occupational and environmental risks. Occupational exposure may affect health workers and people who handle such wastes for disposal.
However, the precise data on occupational consequences from medical wastes are not readily available. It is the main source of concern from medical wastes. Environmental risks may result from illegal or careless handling of medical wastes, especially from incineration practices.
In this regard, matters of medical waste management have become important sources of concerns for many stakeholders. Therefore, it is necessary to understand initial handling, storage practices, and transportation of such wastes.
The incineration of medical waste provides both positive and negative effects. The method reduces large volumes of medical wastes. Moreover, such wastes require minimal treatment before incineration process. However, incineration is costly and hazardous to the environment because of pollution.
KFMC incineration involves burning of both infectious and non-infectious waste as one. Moreover, there is no data to show the amount of medical waste incinerated in the hospital. Some data indicate that incineration can emit large amount of pollutants. Many hospitals have stock stacks.
This creates a way for gases from incinerator to enter wards through windows and other openings. In fact, hospitals have high-levels of dioxins and other harmful emissions.
These emissions originate from medical wastes during incineration because frequencies of incineration, low standards of emission controls, poor control of burning processes, and different kinds of wastes from different chemicals and drugs. There are laws that guide disposal of infectious medical wastes.
However, hospitals do not follow these laws as required. There are also hazardous wastes from hospitals that require proper handling before disposal. Moreover, disposal of any radioactive wastes must conform to nuclear requirements.
The Pneumatic Waste Transport System shall solve the above medical waste challenges by providing various solutions. First, the system shall allow users to segregate wastes with ease because of load stations. Users can put trash and recyclable wastes in various stations.
The system also has the ability to transport different wastes in a single pipe while keeping all wastes separated throughout the system.
The system shall enhance the level of health, hygiene, and safety of all workers and patients in the hospital. The system has the ability to remove medical wastes fast and safely away from people. It also leaves no litter during collecting or sorting of different wastes.
The system also reduces the extent of exposure to harmful medical wastes and dangerous odor from wastes. It promotes environmental sustainability by reducing incineration processes, release of hazardous emissions, and landfill wastes. Therefore, hospitals can have clean environments for their patients.
The Pneumatic Waste Transport System has operational efficiency. It has the ability to serve many people at time. In addition, it has the ability to respond on a real time basis based on its load capacity.
Some systems can process more than 200 tons in a single day. The technological features of the system allow it to streamline repair and maintenance challenges.
Cost control is another advantage that the system provides to its users. Its initial cost may not be high.
It can also reduce operational costs because of low maintenance costs and costs associated with trucks that transport the processed refuse to landfill. This system reduces the need for many garbage collectors and costs associated with them.
Hospitals that have installed the Pneumatic Waste Transport System have competitive advantages over others. They provide clean environments for patients, solid investments, and reduce emissions of harmful chemicals to patients and workers.
KFMC can also use autoclaving to control medical wastes. Autoclaving is stream sterilization of medical wastes before disposing them in a landfill.
It is also effective for controlling microbiological laboratory cultures. However, it may not handle wastes like pathological wastes, sharps, and chemotherapy wastes effectively. The hospital can still treat such wastes through incineration.
In autoclaving, the hospital puts loads of infectious wastes in a chamber. After this, workers apply steam into the chamber for about 30 minutes. The temperature is usually 250 F or 270 F. Such high temperatures sterilize medical wastes fast to allow for short period of the process.
Why this innovation was chosen
The Pneumatic Waste Transport System is the future of waste management across many hospitals and cities. The system is a sustainable waste management approach that can enhance environmental conservation by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Therefore, it creates healthier environment and reduces harmful effects of pollutants in the environment. It also provides real economic advantages to its users. Therefore, users can save costs associated with handling of dangerous wastes from various sources.
In the hospital, the Pneumatic Waste Transport System reduces the amount of time medical wastes can take in the facility. The system also reduces the level of exposure to hazardous medical wastes. Thus, it protects workers and patients from cross-contamination and infections.
It also has chemical-free and features of advanced technologies that ensure safety when handling bio-hazardous chemicals, drugs, and other hospital materials. Clean environment is suitable for patients healing and recovery. Thus, the Pneumatic Waste Transport System is the best alternative for handling medical wastes and refuse.