Santa Clara County Widens Hospital Waste Inquiry
Santa Clara County officials on Tuesday notified Los Gatos Surgical Center that it had violated state law by sending untreated medical waste to a San Jose landfill, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
The surgical center marks the fourth medical facility in one week to be penalized for sending untreated medical waste to the Guadalupe landfill (Feder Ostrov/Bailey, San Jose Mercury News, 5/2).
Officials currently are investigating why three hospitals on seven occasions between April 6 and April 19 sent the medical 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.
Nicole Pullman, the county's hazardous materials program manager, said the waste included bloody sheets and clothing, used tubing and bags of blood, and other disposable medical instruments (California Healthline, 4/27).
Hospital and county officials say the incidents might have been caused by hospital employees disposing the waste into the wrong bins. The bins were picked up by regular trash vehicles and taken to the landfill.
Monica Devincenzi, a spokesperson for the landfill's owner, Waste Management, said the landfill will not accept anything other than office trash from the four facilities until corrective measures are approved by local health officials (San Jose Mercury News, 5/2). 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.