Strategies to reduce risks of cross-contamination when                  managing hospital waste  Q&A with Nigel Green, Sen...
maceration go to landfill. Although in RDH there are issues with source segregationand that caused some problems periodica...
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Strategies to reduce risks of cross contamination when managing hospital waste - interview with nigel green

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Cross-contamination is a critical issue in hospital waste management, with severe consequences when not properly executed. In this interview with Nigel Green, Senior Environmental Scientist from the Department of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport; discusses hospital waste management in rural and remote areas, and how this differs to urban health facilities and highlights strategies to reduce cross-contamination.

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Strategies to reduce risks of cross contamination when managing hospital waste - interview with nigel green

  1. 1. Strategies to reduce risks of cross-contamination when managing hospital waste Q&A with Nigel Green, Senior Environmental Scientist from theDepartment of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport. Hospital Waste Management Australian Healthcare Week 2011Health IQ: Now, what legislation governs the aspects of clinical and relatedwaste in the territory and are there any potential conflicts?Nigel GreenWell, that’s a good question, because at the moment, this very little targets per se,it’s covered under the Waste Management Pollution Control Act as a listed wasteunder schedule 2 of the regulations. But in terms of our interests, our interest arequite minimal in the sense that we monitor any movements of medical related wasteand we do have some governance over where the waste can be disposed of, how itcan be disposed of and that, but we’re looking for more of it, we’ve taken up underthe Health Act, which will look of course at the human implications. So that’s still onmy understanding still being reviewed to a certain extent.Health IQ: In order to reduce the risk of cross contamination of waste, whatstrategies do you have in place and how they work, and do you have anymetrics on them?Nigel GreenThe metrics are quite broad-brush, most ways we’re divided between what’shappening in the remote, and what’s happening in the arterial townships such asDaly, Katherine, Alice, Tennant, that sort of thing. In those remote areas, basically alot of waste, it’s quite minimal of course, you would not expect too much medicalwaste, but what does happen is, it tends to get burnt, their device is called turboburners that the Department of Health looked into some time ago and they’re quitegood if they maintain properly and can’t get rid of it. That of course doesn’t coverthose waste that are declared that they cannot be burnt and they have to be shippedback here to RDH, for collection and ultimate shipment down south for appropriatedisposal down there. Because we don’t have the facilities here. Here, we have anautoclave at Darwin and Alice Springs, and that deals with most waste, which, after
  2. 2. maceration go to landfill. Although in RDH there are issues with source segregationand that caused some problems periodically.Health IQ: Now, what is it do you have in auditing this waste stream?Nigel: Again, the urban areas are fairly good in the sense that we have awaste manifest system with the transporters and that, and we can keep fairly goodtaps - generically anyway - on those medical waste that are being moved aroundfrom clinics and that are brought in to RDH or into others. But in remote areas,there’s very little information that we have. We are trying to improve that to licensingof landfills with the population of a thousand or more; trying to get stats in that sensefrom those communities. But it is difficult, and with high turnovers of staffing andpoor resourcing; it does cause some problems.Health IQ: What advice can you give to clinics especially those in remoteand rural locations who are looking for best practice advice wastemanagement and the prospect of recycling?Nigel: The simplest solution to that is to pick up the phone - we’re always onthe end and we can answer most queries around medical-related waste, and if wecan’t we have colleagues in the States who can. So it’s really not that difficult, ifyou’re really up against the wall and don’t know what to do with a particular wastestream then give us a call, we’re in general phone directories, but you should be ableto get us through the government switch number as well.Nigel Green is presenting at the Hospital Waste Management in February 2011.This event forms part of the Australian Healthcare Week a series of events forhealthcare practitioners. You can visit www.austhealthweek.com.au/hosptitalwastefor more information on this event or to register you can call Judy on 02-9229-1000. Health IQ asks Nigel: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? I started off in the UK working for consultancies, looking in to landfill issues, landfill design, waste management, hazardous waste; and then I came to the territory back in 1990 and I’ve stayed here and I’ve done a variety of roles. I’ve done noise as well as waste, and looking at the environmental assessment issues. I’m trying to work as much as I can with remote communities, because they have the most problems that I can see given their remoteness and lack of skilled offices out there. So I’ve come to this point where I’m a bit of a jack of all the trades and master of none.

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