Hospitals not equipped for biowaste

17 Oct, 2014

The New York Times reports that only a handful of U.S. hospitals are equipped to handle the large amounts of waste produced by cases of Ebola. Aside from Emory University and the University of Nebraska, most facilities don’t have incinerators or autoclaves (steam sterilizers) and specially trained staff. Texas Health Presbyterian had to pack and ship 55-gallon drums of waste including body fluids, linens, hazmat suits and an entire hospital bed, to a Port Arthur, Tx., incinerator. Debra Sharpe, a Birmingham, Ala., biosafety expert:

It would take me anywhere from four to six weeks to train an employee to work in a high containment lab in a safe manner. It’s ludicrous to expect doctors and nurses to figure that out with a day’s worth of training. None of the science is new; none of the protection components are new. It’s just new in a health care setting. Hospitals and the C.D.C. should have been reaching out to the biosafety community before now, to try to adjust to this.

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