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Medical waste disposal: A better, more cost-effective way

Oct. 15, 2014
Medical waste disposal is a standard element of a dental office's overhead.

by Thomas C. Stokes II, DDS

Medical waste disposal is a standard element of a dental office's overhead. Our office, like many others, relied on an outside company to come several times a month on set days and remove our color-coded, carefully-labeled, sealed boxes of hazardous medical waste. The process was not cumbersome, but it was one more vendor to deal with and wait for, and one more check to write. There were few options for companies that would provide this service, and rates were similar and always increasing.

Because it's small part of our budget, I rarely gave the disposal of medical waste much thought, until a particularly high increase in fees annoyed me. I realized that compared to other larger facilities, like multi-specialty clinics and hospitals, a general dental office has a relatively small amount of waste. Comparing that amount of waste to ours, the cost was unnecessarily high. I began to look for alternatives that would be more efficient and cost-effective.

I found a company called Medical Innovations, Inc. (medicalinnovationsinc.com), that specializes in in-office medical waste treatment. One of their products, simply called the Medical Waste Machine, was the solution to eliminating our third-party medical waste service entirely. The "waste disposal machine" is a small, countertop device that looks much like a commercial coffee thermos without a spigot. It sits in our sterilization room and serves both as a sharps container and a sterilization unit. Sharps and other medical waste can be dropped in a hole at the top, and when the canister is full, a special piece of plastic that resembles a hockey puck is placed on top of the waste, and the machine is closed and turned on for processing.

Processing heats the contents of the canister to sterilize them, in addition to encapsulating them in the now melted plastic from the "hockey puck." The result is a small block of non-regulated waste that can be thrown in the trash.

When we first used the device, it was one of those "Now why didn't I think of that?" moments. While I didn't think of it, I'm glad I found the company that did. Our Medical Innovations, Inc., Medical Waste Machine has provided the office with continuous use for more than 16 years, and has never needed replacement or repair. The only costs associated with the device are the small amount of electricity it draws and the meltable "hockey pucks," which is hundreds of dollars less a year than using a medical waste disposal company.

Thomas C. Stokes II, DDS, is a general dentist practicing in Michigan City, Indiana since 1980. He is a member of many dental societies both local and national. He has served on numerous boards as president. He is an adjunct clinical dental instructor at several dental programs in Indiana. He can be reached at [email protected].

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