Medical waste disposal at a hospital in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa: implications for training of healthcare professionals15 Dec 2016
Background. Healthcare professionals (HCPs) produce various types of waste in the course of rendering healthcare services. Each classification of waste must be disposed of according to the prescribed guidelines. Incorrect disposal of waste may pose a danger to employees, patients and the environment. HCPs must have adequate knowledge of the disposal of medical waste. Objectives. To determine the knowledge and practices of HCPs with regard to medical waste disposal at a hospital in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. Methods. A quantitative cross-sectional research approach was used. The study respondents included nurses, medical doctors, dental health staff and allied health staff. Data were collected through self-administered questionnaires and analysed using IBM SPSS version 22.0. Results. A high proportion of HCPs did not have adequate knowledge regarding the disposal of medical waste, but nevertheless disposed of medical waste appropriately. While the knowledge and practices of HCPs with regard to medical waste disposal were not associated with age, gender or years of experience, there was an association between professional category and knowledge and practices. Conclusions. Disposal of medical waste is the responsibility of all HCPs. All categories of HCPs should receive regular training to improve their knowledge regarding disposal of medical waste and to minimise the risks associated with improper waste management. This will further increase compliance with the guidelines on disposal of medical waste.