Santa Clara County, Calif., officials plan to cite a fourth healthcare facility for sending surgical tubing, bloodstained gauze and other medical waste to a landfill in violation of state law.
Waste Management, operators of the San Jose landfill, found the improperly disposed of items from the Los Gatos (Calif.) Surgical Center while checking a load of trash on Friday, said spokeswoman Monica Devincenzi.
The county issued similar citations last week to O'Connor Hospital, Los Gatos Community Hospital and the Kaiser-Santa Teresa facility after bags of human blood and other types of untreated waste showed up at the landfill seven times over two weeks.
Syringes, bandages and other medical byproducts are supposed to be sent to special waste disposal facilities to prevent spreading disease and contaminating the environment. The load from the Los Gatos surgery center was discovered after a landfill employee noticed blue surgical gowns inside a trash bag.
After it was inspected and the contents traced back, the center had to remove the entire load of several tons and have it taken to a medical waste treatment plant, said Ann Clarkson, senior environmental health specialist for the county. Hospital and county officials think the recent mix-ups happened when employees put the medical waste into the wrong trash bins. They have increased worker training to address the problem. -- by the Associated Press