Reducing HCW risks

Reducing the direct and indirect risks posed by HCRW is one of the main objectives of this website. It is achieved – as detailed in the next two sections – through a set of measures that have to be taken in parallel at the management, training, regulatory, technical and financial levels.

Action must be taken in this respect not only within the medical sphere of HCFs, but also at regional and national political levels.

Awareness and training are certainly the first and most important means of inducing changes. A well trained person will always find solutions to the problems encountered, even if imperfect.

One step after another...

Considering the scope of the work, it is important to keep in mind that a phased and progressive approach taking into account human and financial resources available will have to be taken [read more…

A small step in the right direction that can be implemented in a sustainable manner is better than trying to aim at too sophisticated systems that won't work on the long run.

Simple waste management measures, such as effective confinement of waste and safe handling, can already dramatically reduce health risks if they are consistently applied at each step along the HCW stream from the point of generation («cradle») to the point of final disposal («grave»).

A simple three bin segregation system (sharps, infectious waste and general waste) is an efficient first step that should be quite easy to implement and that enables to reduce the most important risks drastically before going into more detailed solutions taking into account all the different categories of HCW.

A relative risk approach

At the level of waste treatment technical options, the criteria for deciding on the system is that it protect in the best way possible healthcare workers and the community as well as minimize adverse impacts on the environment [read more…]

Environmental-friendly and safe options used in high income countries may not always be affordable or possible to implement (lack of electrical supply, etc.) in less economically developed countries (LEDCs).

Health  risks from environmental exposures should be weighed against the risks posed by accidental infection  from poorly managed infectious waste (sharps in particular). The use of a burial pit or a small-scale incinerator, although clearly not the best solution, is much better than uncontrolled dumping.

The main criteria for the selection of a technical option should be that their implementation will offer a level of health protection which eliminates as many risks as possible. The HCWM systems can subsequently be upgraded to reach higher safety standards.

For further information on the suggested short, medium and long-term strategy see the HCWM policy.