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Regulated medical waste autoclaves attract renewed attention as technology improves and codes become tighter

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  • Treating medical waste

    Using a well-tested technology that already treats a large portion of regulated medical waste (RMW) generated by hospitals, waste-handling autoclaves can safely be called a mature technology. Despite the equipment's lengthy history, however, vendors are still adding features to make RMW autoclaves safer and more efficient.
    "The technology is tried and true. It works," says Laura Brannen, senior associate, materials and waste management prevention strategies, Mazzetti, San Francisco. "Recent improvements in technology have been in the handling of the waste. The equipment once was loaded manually. Today's systems are more automated. Material is conveyed directly into waste compactors."
    Autoclaving still has limitations, according to Brannen. It does not take care of such hazardous materials as chemical waste, pharmaceutical waste and chemotherapy waste. However, autoclave technology continues to dominate the market because it is "approved by rule" in most states and the process is well-understood.
    "Autoclave processing of RMW is economical and effective when properly managed. It is also safe, both in terms of operation and environmental impact," says Timothy Barrett, vice president and COO, OnSite Sterilization LLC, Pottstown, Pa. "Autoclave processing on-site allows hospitals to better control waste streams, reduces risks associated with the transportation of potentially infectious waste, and eliminates the cost and environmental impact of trucking." (continue reading-click link below)
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