This is an excerpt from the March 11, 2021 edition of Medically Necessary, a health care supply chain newsletter. Subscribe here.
Good afternoon. Medically Necessary is a newsletter by Matt Blois about the health care supply chain — how we get drugs, devices and medical supplies to health care providers and patients.
(Photo: Flickr/Fuzzy Gerdes CC BY-SA 2.0)
The challenge: The COVID-19 pandemic instantly increased demand for some types of medical waste management, such as the disposal of personal protective equipment and testing supplies.
- Waste management companies say they met that challenge last year, but it required a lot of flexibility.
Now there’s a new test. Health care providers must dispose of hundreds of millions of needles and empty vaccine vials.
- A shortage of sharps containers, the plastic buckets in which clinicians throw away old syringes and vials, has made that harder.
Waste managers are also trying to predict the pandemic’s long-term effects on medical waste management and reshape their companies to meet future needs.
The net effect: Stericycle, one of the country’s largest medical waste management operators, reported that the pandemic slightly increased the demand for medical waste management.
- “Elective surgeries have been completely closed … and yet we’re still able to see growth,” CEO Cindy Miller said on a February conference call. “We’ve got an uptick from COVID, whether it’s the testing and the vaccinations and…