Wondering about your state’s regulations around your facility’s regular medical waste? You’re not alone, so we put these frequently asked questions together to help!

Regulated Medical Waste Q&A

What is regulated medical waste?
According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), regulated medical waste is material that was used in a healthcare setting, research setting or post-mortem exams. It is also known as infectious waste or biohazardous waste, and includes:

  • Sharps
  • Microbiological specimens (i.e., vaccines, culture dishes,…)
  • Blood / blood products
  • Pathological waste (body fluids and any part removed from a human body)
  • Contaminated animal waste (parts, bodies, or bedding of animals exposed to human pathogens)
  • Isolation waste from Biosafety Level 4 agents
  • Other waste designated as infectious

More information can be found on their website at www.scdhec.gov/infectiouswaste/.

How can I properly dispose of it?
If your healthcare facility generates any of the items from the list above, you can’t just throw it in the regular trash bin. As the “generator” of this type of refuse, you are liable for the proper handling, storing, and disposing of these items.

Where should I start?
Any facility that generates any type of infectious /regulated medical waste should register with the South Carolina program. More information can be obtained on the DHEC’s website at www.scdhec.gov/infectiouswaste/.

How should regulated medical waste be packaged?
Here are some quick tips to remember:

  • For proper sharps disposal, used ones must be placed in a rigid, leak-proof, and puncture resistant Sharps Container.
  • All other waste should be placed and stored in a rigid or semi-rigid leak-proof container that will not allow liquid in or out, i.e. it’s common to use a corrugated box with red or orange plastic liner.
  • Once the container is filled, it must be closed and stored to be picked up.
  • All containers need to be labeled prior to transport. The label should include:
    1. The generator’s name
    2. Their South Carolina “Infectious Waste Generator” number
    3. The date the container was placed in storage and/or transported off-site

How do I store my regulated medical waste?
It’s important to clearly store this type of refuse separately, in a clearly marked area. Storage areas should be marked with the biohazard symbol along with the words: “Infectious Waste.” Other acceptable alternate words are “Biohazardous Waste” or “Medical Waste.”

How long can I store the waste before it is picked up?
The storage period begins when the waste container is closed.  Waste should not be stored on site for more than 14 days.  If waste is refrigerated, then it can be stored for up to 30 days.  If waste begins to smell, it should be removed by a transporter immediately.

Who can pick up my waste?
Only approved regulated medical waste disposal transporters may pick up your waste to ensure proper removal. For more information on how ImageFIRST Regulated Medical Waste Services can help, call 800-566-2137 or email medicalwaste@imagefirst.com.