Associations Issue Multisociety Statement on Processing Biohazardous Medical Waste

The recent outbreak of Ebola virus disease has raised questions about the correct handling of Ebola contaminated biohazardous medical waste. A joint advisory statement issued by AAMI, AORN, APIC, AST and IAHCSMM is intended to provide guidance to personnel and healthcare organizations for handling biohazardous medical waste, including waste contaminated with the Ebola virus.

This statement addresses the use of sterilizers for processing biohazardous waste in the healthcare facility. This document does not address transportation of biohazardous waste, or processing of contaminated reusable medical devices and textiles.

Recognizing that sterilization modalities other than moist heat may be used for processing biohazardous waste, the term “sterilizer” is used rather than “autoclave” as used in other guidelines.                  

This is an evolving issue and healthcare professionals should review current research and incorporate new evidence into practice to mitigate occupational and patient risk associated with handling biohazardous medical waste.

AAMI, AORN, APIC, AST and IAHCSMM recommend that:
1. Healthcare organizations should not circumvent established protocols for handling biohazardous medical waste.
2. Biohazardous medical waste should not be brought into clean areas where processing reusable medical devices is performed.
3. Biohazardous medical waste should not be inactivated in a sterilizer that is used for processing reusable medical devices.
4. Sterilizers used to inactivate biohazardous medical waste should be designed and validated for that particular purpose.
5. Organizations should work with infection preventionists and keep abreast of evolving professional and regulatory guidelines for handling biohazardous medical waste.

Source: AAMI