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10 steps to manage hazardous waste in healthcare, from EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently published a guide to help healthcare facilities managers comply with hazardous waste regulations as they apply to pharmaceutical waste.

EPA hazardous waste in healthcare publication
Image courtesy of EPA

A 10-Step Blueprint for Managing Pharmaceutical Waste in US Healthcare Facilities is a comprehensive and practical guide that helps healthcare facilities, including hospitals, surgery centers and urgent care facilities, understand the applicable regulations so they can develop a compliant, holistic and cost-effective pharmaceutical waste management program.

The primary focus is to help healthcare facilities understand EPA’s hazardous waste regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) as they apply to hazardous waste pharmaceuticals, but other related regulations are also discussed.

The original document was published in 2006 and was updated in 2008.

The 10 Steps listed in the document are:

  • STEP ONE: Understanding Which Pharmaceuticals are Regulated as Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals When Discarded
  • STEP TWO: Reviewing Standards for Healthcare Facilities Operating Under the Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals Rule
  • STEP THREE: Determining Which Facilities Must Operate Under Subpart P
  • STEP FOUR: Leadership and Current Program Review
  • STEP FIVE: Choosing Appropriate Vendors
  • STEP SIX: Implementing a Pharmaceutical Waste Program in the Pharmacy
  • STEP SEVEN: Implementing a Pharmaceutical Waste Program in the Nursing Unit and other Patient Care Areas
  • STEP EIGHT: Management Responsibilities: Team Management, Policy and Procedure Development, and Process Improvement
  • STEP NINE: Training Programs – Program Re-launch and Online Training
  • STEP TEN: RCRA Generator Category for Facilities Operating under Subpart P

A 10-Step Blueprint for Managing Pharmaceutical Waste in US Healthcare Facilities (PDF file) is available from EPA. Look for more related information on EPA’s Management of Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals.