The Caregiver


Handling Infectious Waste


What is Infectious Waste?
In the process of caring for your loved one at home, wastes are generated as a result of the person diagnosis and treatments.  Infectious waste refers to that portion of waste that could transmit an infectious disease.  This waste includes body substances (such as urine, stool, vomitus) and objects contaminated with these substances.  In principle, the waste is considered infectious when it is suspected to contain or has the potential to contain disease-causing microorganisms in sufficient numbers to cause disease. However, as a rule of thumb, you are advised to handle body substances, including blood and all body fluids, or any materials that have come in contact with them as if they are infectious, regardless of the person's diagnosis. 



Guide to Handling of Infectious Waste


Treat urine, stool, vomitus, blood, and body fluids as potentially infectious and handled cautiously, regardless of the person's diagnosis.


Spills of blood and body fluid should be cleaned up and surfaces disinfected immediately.


Wear personal protective equipment (gloves, mask, apron/gown) if a large spill or contamination is expected.  For more details, please refer to Use of Personal Protective Equipment.


Always wear gloves to handle contaminated dressings or supplies.


Wash hands immediately if they become contaminated with blood or body fluids.


Take care to avoid splashing any contaminated material onto the mucous membranes of your eyes, nose or mouth, or into any broken skin you may have.  For instance, when pouring contaminated wastes into the toilet, do it slowly to minimise splashing.


If you have open skin lesion such as a cut on your hand, you should avoid contact with blood and other body fluids.


Handle needles and sharp objects with extra caution.  For more details, please refer to Handling of Needles and Sharp Objects.


All contaminated items such as dressing, catheter, gauze, suction tubing and disposable diapers should be discarded into a plastic bag properly secured.


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Cleaning Up Blood Spills and Body Fluids 


Clean up spills of blood or body fluids immediately.


Wear protective equipment such as gloves, mask, and apron/gown, as indicated by the type of spill, to prevent the spread of infection.


Mark the spill area so that others do not inadvertently enter the area until clean up is complete.


Absorb as much of the visible material as possible with paper towels or disposable rags/cloths and carefully discard them into a leak-proof plastic bag.


Use a detergent or a disinfectant solution such as sodium hypochlorite to clean the spill area.  You can be liberal with disinfectant but do not apply so heavily that it begins to run.  Allow the solution to sit for a minimum of 10 minutes before rinsing the area with clean water.


Equipment used to clean up body fluids, such as a mop, should be cleaned with detergent and rinsed with water.  Rinsed them with fresh disinfecting solution and wrung as dry as possible. Air-dried the equipment.


After cleaning the area, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, even though you wore gloves.


If blood or body fluids has spilled directly onto you, it should be thoroughly washed off as soon as possible.  If the spills soaked through your clothing and there is skin contact, the *clothes must be removed.  Wash the areas that are contaminated and take a complete shower if necessary.


In cases when blood or body fluids has come into contact with mucous membranes such as your eyes, nose, and lips, they need to be thoroughly rinsed. If there is contact with open wounds in your skin, immediately and thoroughly wash the areas with water and an antiseptic cleaner.



* Contaminated clothes must be laundered with soap and water to eliminate potentially infectious agents.  Clothing soaked with body fluids should be washed separately from other items.  Pre-soaking is recommended for heavily soiled clothing.  Follow the directions provided by the manufacturer of the laundry detergent.