Santa Clara County Investigates Hospital Waste Disposal
Santa Clara County officials on Thursday notified three local hospitals of violating state law by sending untreated medical waste on several occasions earlier this month to a San Jose landfill, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
State law requires medical waste to be sterilized before disposal to protect workers at the landfill and to prevent the spread of disease.
Officials are investigating why the hospitals on seven occasions between April 6 and April 19 sent the medical waste along with their regular trash to the Guadalupe landfill.
The hospitals under investigation are:
- Kaiser Permanente's Santa Teresa Hospital in San Jose;
- Los Gatos Community Hospital; and
- O'Connor Hospital in San Jose.
Nicole Pullman, the county's hazardous materials program manager, said the county has not decided whether the hospitals will be fined or otherwise sanctioned. Pullman said the waste included bloody sheets and clothing, used tubing and bags of blood, and other disposable medical instruments.
California landfills at the request of state regulators conduct random inspections for illegal waste. The first load of medical waste was discovered during a random check.
Marleen Wood, a manager for Sanitec Industries, a contractor that safely disposes medical waste from the landfill, said she also noticed patient bill records in the trash, which contained confidential information from Santa Teresa and O'Connor hospitals.
The Guadalupe landfill temporarily has stopped accepting waste from hospitals that does not come from administrative offices (Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 4/27). 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.