Further Problems Found in Medical Waste Disposal
Two Los Gatos medical office buildings are the latest facilities to fall under scrutiny by Santa Clara County officials after shipments of garbage to a San Jose landfill on Friday were found to contain untreated medical waste, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
The discovery by workers at the Guadalupe landfill came the same week that county officials penalized Los Gatos Surgical Center for the same issue (Feder Ostrov/Bailey, San Jose Mercury News, 5/7).
The county one week earlier began investigating why three hospitals on seven occasions between April 6 and April 19 also sent untreated waste along with their regular trash to the landfill.
State law requires medical waste to be sterilized before disposal to protect workers at the landfill and to prevent the spread of disease.
The other facilities under investigation are:
- Kaiser Permanente's Santa Teresa Hospital in San Jose;
- Los Gatos Community Hospital; and
- O'Connor Hospital in San Jose (California Healthline, 5/3).
Hospital and county officials say the incidents might have been caused by hospital employees disposing of the waste into the wrong bins. The bins were picked up by regular trash vehicles and taken to the landfill.
The waste included bloody sheets and clothing, used tubing and bags of blood, and other disposable medical instruments, as well as private patient medical records (California Healthline, 4/27).
The county has ordered the four facilities to submit corrective action plans. Meanwhile, the landfill temporarily has stopped accepting all waste until county officials approve the submitted plans.
In addition, state officials have launched a campaign to help landfills identify and reject medical waste and other hazards (San Jose Mercury News, 5/7). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.