Used Medical Equipment

How to Dispose Used Medical Equipment?

Disposing of medical equipment is not the same as disposing of any other type of unwanted waste. Medical equipment requires special care when disposed of. If not discarded properly, then it can cause damage to the environment, spread diseases, harm animals and plants, and in the worst circumstances, they can even be lethal. 
The good news is that there are proper ways to get rid of medical equipment. Proper education and training can help you identify the ways in which different types of such equipment can be properly put away. If your existing medical equipment needs to be thrown away, then you can consider availing of an online Medical Equipment Loan to facilitate the process of acquiring new equipment. 
In this article, we’ll cover what constitutes used medical equipment and the three stages involved in proper disposal.

What is Used Medical Equipment?

Before we properly define used medical equipment, we must understand what constitutes medical equipment. Medical equipment is any device or tool that is used to perform medical treatments or diagnoses. It may also be used to refer to equipment that is used for medical rehabilitation. For the purpose of this article, we will not count single-use, implantable, or easily discarded medical equipment. 
Used medical equipment refers to such equipment which has served its purpose and is no longer required. This equipment may have already been used, become obsolete, or become unusable. 
Medical Equipment Loans for laboratory can allow for the purchase of completely new equipment or used medical equipment.  

The Three Main Stages  

It can be highly unsafe to improperly store such equipment without following these guidelines. It can lead to environmental or public harm. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are three main stages which must be followed when getting rid of used medical equipment. 
These stages are decommission, decontaminate, and disposal. We’ll be discussing each of these stages in detail. 


Decommission
The first stage involves properly determining whether the medical equipment needs to be discarded. If the equipment needs to be thrown away, then the first step is to collect the equipment and remove it from the source of the waste. Then the waste must be sorted according to the disposal requirement. 
There are two main types of waste: hazardous waste and non-hazardous waste. 
Hazardous waste can pose a grave danger to public health or the environment whereas non-hazardous waste can pose an indirect threat. 
Hazardous waste cannot be simply thrown into a trash bin or the common sewers. 
Each type of waste must be dealt with accordingly. 


Decontamination 
The second stage involves ensuring that the medical equipment is safe for handling and removal. This process includes decontaminating the equipment, removing any patient data, and cleaning it. Once the equipment has been cleaned, it can be collected by a third-party decontamination organization for further processing and sanitization. 
Before the equipment is ready to be collected, the following procedure needs to be adhered to (depending on the risk level of the equipment). 

  • Disassembly – The equipment needs to be disassembled according to the instruction manual of the manufacturer. Any consumables that are part of the equipment or are used with the equipment must be removed. The consumables must be disposed of according to their specific requirements. 
  • Cleaning – The equipment can be cleaned by using an enzymatic solution or a detergent. While cleaning, the equipment needs to be thoroughly scrubbed and any air pockets must be removed to prevent aerosolized transmission of infection. If possible, the equipment should be submerged in water to ensure thorough cleaning. If the equipment cannot be submerged in water, then it should be thoroughly cleaned of any debris. Such washers are designed for the removal of microorganisms. The equipment should be cleaned using an ultrasonic washer (if it is available) to ensure thorough cleaning. If such a washer is not available, then manual cleaning steps need to be taken. 
  • Disinfection – The equipment needs to be thoroughly disinfected either thermally or through pasteurization (assuming that the equipment will not be sent for re-use). Further sterilization is recommended so that any traces of microorganisms are removed. This disinfection ensures that the equipment does not pass on chemicals or diseases into the environment. 
  • Removal of Patient Data – If the equipment is of a type that stores data or information, then the data and information must be permanently deleted or removed from the device. This step needs to be taken to ensure patient confidentiality and protect sensitive information from being disseminated. 

Once the equipment has been decontaminated an online Medical Equipment Loan can be availed of to replace such equipment. A Medical Equipment Loan for hospitals comes with flexible terms and can facilitate the smooth functioning of the organization. 


Disposal  
At this stage, the medical equipment can be either disposed of or sent for re-use. If the equipment is being re-used it must be deemed fit for re-use according to the guidelines of a relevant authority. The following steps can be taken to enable the re-use of such equipment. 

  • Reassignment – The medical equipment can be transferred to a different unit within the organization. If the performance of the equipment is determined to be fit for medical use, then it can be transferred to a unit that requires such equipment. You can determine whether the equipment is fit for re-use based on the available resources of the organization (such as the availability of training and maintenance).  
  • Refurbishing – Medical equipment can be sent for refurbishing if no significant change is required in the performance of the equipment, safety specifications, or other procedures. 
  • Donation or Sale – If the safety and performance of the equipment are not an issue, then it can be donated to another organization. The device can be relocated to a different hospital or clinic that can maintain and use the device. Before such donation, the organization should ensure that the equipment is completely fit for re-use. If a donation is not feasible, then the equipment can also be sold at a lower cost to a different organization. Again, it must be ensured that the equipment is fit for re-use. If a sale is being made, the organization needs to check if such a sale is allowed by extant regulations. 

In case the equipment needs to be completely disposed of, then it can be eliminated. This elimination can be done by incinerating the equipment or by sending it to a landfill (if the device cannot be recycled). 

Wrapping Up  

Used medical equipment requires highly careful handling even after the purpose of the equipment has been served. If the device is still valuable, then it can be reused or recycled. Otherwise, the equipment will need to be discarded properly. 
If your organization requires new medical equipment, then an online Medical Equipment Loan can help with your needs. These Medical Equipment Loans for clinics or hospitals have attractive interest rates and flexible tenures.

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