Case Studies on Health Care Waste Management Practices of Selected Public and Private Hospitals in Metro Manila

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Hospitals provide vital health care services to society and are among the institutions most critical for people's well-being. They are indispensable. However, because of the nature of their operations and the services they render to their patients (both in-house and out-patient), they also inevitably generate large volumes of some of the most hazardous wastes. If not properly handled, these wastes are dangerous pollutants and can spread diseases to patients and their families, hospital staff, waste management workers, and society in general.

Various laws and rules govern how hospitals should manage their waste output. Aside from general regulations applicable to all organizations, hospitals are specifically subject to the provisions of the Revised Health Care Waste Management Manual (RHCWWM) promulgated by the Department of Health in 2005. It has detailed rules and procedures on how to classify hospital wastes and how to handle, transport, neutralize, and dispose these.

This paper contains case studies on the health care waste management practices of selected public and private hospitals in Metro Manila. These case studies were the output of an Operations Management course handled by the author for Year Level 8 students (fourth-year medical students or clerks) at the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health in 2012. These focused on seven hospitals, six of which were the assigned rotations of the students. During their respective on-the-job rotation, the students investigated the waste management practices of their subject hospitals, using the laws and Department of Health (DOH) regulations in the Manual as their frame of reference, and under this author's guidance.

The study showed various instances of conformity with the standards, even best practices. On the other hand, it also revealed weaknesses and areas of improvement, particularly because of the potentially serious impact in public health. Finally, lessons are drawn from these case studies to help guide hospital managers on the management of their institutions' wastes.