The Autoclave

In 2010, MedSharps unveiled the region’s first and only, large-scale, commercial steam autoclave for medical waste disposal, allowing for a single, secure transport where every step of the process for MedSharps’ clients is controlled in-house.

Until the autoclave was installed, medical waste generated from area health facilities had to be transported out of town, as far away as Bastrop or Port Arthur with the risk of exposure growing by the mile.

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What is Autoclaving?

Autoclaving uses a type of steam sterilization similar to what medical instruments get before use. It’s both the most effective and environmentally friendly option available. High-pressure steam kills any bacteria or viruses that may be in the waste, so the public is at no risk for contamination. Also, steaming is a clean process that doesn’t emit dangerous gasses into the atmosphere like incinerating or require a chemical component like other options.

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How an Autoclave Works

After bins of red-bagged medical waste are moved inside the stainless steel autoclave, a worker uses a control panel to close the door remotely. A computer controller initiates a pre-vacuum phase to remove air from inside the vessel. Evacuated air is mixed with steam before being sent to a blowdown tank. This is followed by the treatment phase, in which steam is added, temperatures raised and pressure increased. As the treatment is completed, the steam and pressure are released, a tone announces the job done and the operator enables the unload button. The tub of sterilized waste is removed to a large trash compactor that compresses the treated waste into a roll-off container that is driven to the landfill when full.

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About the MedSharps Autoclave

Capable of processing 13,500 lbs of waste each day, the MedSharps autoclave can handle a significant amount of the region’s needs. MedSharps is fully complaint with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and Department of Transportation (DOT) standards, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations regarding medical waste transport and treatment. It’s also one of the few shredding companies in Texas to be rated AAA Certified by the National Association of Information Destruction.

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