Alberta Health Services has recently made changes to the way it disposes of some equipment and items used during the dialysis process.
These changes have absolutely no impact whatsoever on patient or staff safety, and bring our disposal processes in line with almost every other health system in Canada.
Suggestions that this new process somehow puts patients and staff at risk are not true, and unfair.
Prior to January 2015, the Northern Alberta Renal Program (NARP) disposed of all items that contained blood - or had been in contact with blood – into biomedical waste.
However, after reviewing Canadian Safety Association (CSA) standards, and consulting with waste management experts – as well as AHS Infection Prevention and Control and Workplace Health and Safety – it was decided that changes could be made safely to the disposal process.
In January, NARP began educating its staff, and implemented a new waste protocol that keeps dialysis equipment such as tubing and dialyzers out of biomedical waste, drains and rinses them, and makes them safe for disposal in general waste.
Any sharp items or items containing blood continue to be disposed of in biomedical waste.
This protocol is already in place for the Southern Alberta Renal Program (SARP) and in most health systems across Canada.
This practice reduces the costs associated with the disposal of dialysis systems, and provides a standardized process provincially for the disposal of dialysis waste. NARP estimates the change will save approximately $600,000 each year in disposal costs.
That is money that can be used more effectively in other areas that directly affect patient care.
Alberta Health Services is always looking for opportunities to reduce costs and maintain safe environments for patients and staff.
The Northern Alberta Renal Program (NARP) staff identified their waste management system as an area to be reviewed and improved and could provide a means to lessen costs, after reviewing standard dialysis disposal practices at sites across the country.
There are currently more than 1,250 patients on dialysis within NARP, a geographical area that includes central and northern Alberta.
NARP treats patients with sudden or long-term kidney disease. NARP provides dialysis -- a process for removing waste and excess water from the blood, and is used primarily as an artificial replacement for lost kidney function.