Disposing of Home Healthcare Waste

Properly disposing of home healthcare waste is paramount, especially with the rise of injectable medicines and infusion therapies. For instance, home health patients shouldn’t place sharps or used EPI pens in their household trash. Nor should they throw out an IV bag with a trace amount of chemotherapy drug in it.


Use Medical Waste Mailback for Home Infusion Therapy Care

To solve the issue of how to dispose of healthcare waste at home compliantly, many infusion pharmacies are now providing a medical waste mailback kit. In many instances, a mailback kit goes right along with a patient’s injectable vitamin, antibiotic, or infusion therapy medication.

Susan Kleppin, Director of Pharmacy at UW Health Care Direct, said their home health and infusion patients receive MERI mailback kits for their medical waste. These kits keep potential infectious materials out of household waste.

For example, UW Health Care Direct diabetic patients who monitor and administer their insulin medication receive a sharps disposal mailback container. These containers safely store lancets, syringes, and needles.

Alternatively, UW Health Care Direct cancer patients undergoing in-home chemotherapy treatments use a trace chemotherapy mailback container.

“We rely on MERI. They help us meet our home healthcare and infusion patient needs for medical waste disposal.”

Susan Kleppin

Director of Pharmacy, UW Health Care Direct

Sometimes, traveling nurses providing IV treatments to patients in their homes may also keep one of these mailback kits on hand. The container provides a safe way to carry and transport the medical waste in their vehicle. Then, they package it up for the mail carrier to collect and deliver to the licensed treatment facility.


Why Can’t I Throw Needles in the Home Trash?

Properly disposing of needles and infectious waste from in-home medical treatments protects the patient, medical caregivers, family members, and waste collection workers. In addition, keeping sharps out of the household garbage will keep others from getting poked by a needlestick. Most importantly, it avoids exposure to bloodborne pathogen diseases like HBV and HIV.


Can Medical Waste Go Through The Mail?

Medical waste can go through the mail, but only if you use a certified medical waste mailback kit.  Every MERI medical waste kit meets the stringent shipping and safety requirements set by the Department of Transportation and United States Postal Service.

Each includes a rigid biohazard container and outer shipping box with prepaid postage to return to our licensed treatment facility.

In each one is a:

  • Rigid, Leakproof Biohazard Collection container
  • Heavy plastic liner bag
  • Zip tie to secure bag
  • Packing boxes
  • Simple-to-follow instruction sheet
  • Manifest to document proper treatment and disposal
  • Prepaid return shipping label

What Goes in A Sharps Disposal Medical Mailback Container?

Our earlier blog, “How to Package Your Trace Chemo Waste” highlights what should – and shouldn’t  – go inside of a trace chemotherapy mailback kit.

All of these items can go inside of a sharps disposal mailback kit:

  • Potentially Infectious materials (blood on them that drips, flakes)
  • Surgical Gloves
  • Gowns
  • Gauze
  • Sharps Waste, including:
    • Needles – Hollow needles for injecting drugs (medication) under the skin.
    • Syringes – Objects that inject medicine or draw fluid from the body.
    • Lancets (“fingerstick” devices) – Instruments with a short blade that draws blood for testing. People with diabetes often use it for testing.
    • Autoinjectors – Syringes that come with fluid medication. These include epinephrine and insulin pens.
    • Infusion sets – Tubing systems with a needle to inject drugs into the body.
    • Connection needles/sets – Needles that connect to a tube to transfer fluids in and out of the body. Patients use them for home hemodialysis.



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