Veterinarians: Not staying on top of your biohazardous waste fees hurts everyone, including your clients

As any business owner or manager whose practice deals with medical waste knows, biohazardous waste can cost a pretty penny to dispose of. For veterinarians specifically, oftentimes, the ever-increasing cost of this service gets passed down onto the client, in the form of an added fee on their bill.  

In this article, we look at the cost of biohazardous waste disposal on veterinary clinics, and how failing to keep on top of those fees can hurt you and your clients.  

What biohazardous waste do vet clinics produce?  

Veterinary practices and animal hospitals produce the following kinds of biohazardous waste: 

  • Contaminated sharps – such as used needles, scalpels, surgical blades.  
  • Bodily fluids – such as blood, used bandages and dressings, blood collection tubes, etc.  
  • Pathological waste – such as carcasses, organs, diseased or infected tissue, and removed tumors or cysts.  
  • Microbiological waste – such as cultures, specimens, or other contaminated laboratory items.  
  • Used/contaminated personal protective equipment (PPE). 
  • Chemical waste – such as disinfectants, cleaning agents, laboratory chemicals, medications, etc.  
  • Waste generated by x-ray machines. 

Obviously, the scope of what a practice offers is going to determine how much biohazardous waste is being produced and disposed of, but by the very nature of the work, there is guaranteed to be some.   

There are many costs associated with biohazardous waste.  

While this article is primarily focused on the costs associated with biohazardous waste disposal, there are several other costs associated, as well: 

  • Regulatory compliance – including obtaining permits and implementing specific disposal procedures. 
  • Training and certification – staff must be trained in proper biohazardous waste handling and disposal procedures, which, depending on the practice’s staffing situation, might be an expense incurred by the business.  
  • Potential liability costs should an incident occur. 

Specifically, when it comes to biohazardous waste disposal, the costs are represented by: 

  • Collection fees. 
  • Transportation fees. 
  • Disposal fees from the facilities that process specialized waste.  
  • Specialized containers and packaging. 
  • Extra staff hours dedicated to proper record keeping and waste segregation.  

These costs are often represented on clients’ bills. 

As more and more regulations of biohazardous waste are being implemented across North America, resulting in rising costs to vets, an increasing number of veterinary practices have begun charging a ‘medical waste fee’ or ‘biohazard fee’ on their clients’ bills. Some vets might bundle the disposal cost in with the cost of the service, while others choose to lay it out for transparency.  

Now, as any animal owner knows, a visit to the vet clinic or animal hospital is already expensive, and potentially stressful enough. Seeing a charge for medical waste on your invoice, while understandable, might cause an additional sense of frustration, depending on how expensive that charge is.  

Therefore, as a practice owner or manager, part of best-serving your clients is making sure your biohazardous/medical waste disposal fees are under control. The less you’re overpaying to your vendors, the less gets pushed onto the customers. Everybody wins.  

Why might your practice be paying too much for disposal? 

Several factors can contribute to veterinary practices overpaying for medical waste disposal. These include: 

  • Volume of waste. 
  • Container sizes.  
  • Collection schedules.  
  • Contract agreement and rates.  
  • Rising transportation costs.  

While your business can take certain steps to reduce waste, it can be difficult to cut back too much without impacting your services. In order to be sure you’re not overpaying, it’s important to be sure your container sizes, collection schedules, and rates are optimized.  

In conclusion… 

Biohazardous medical waste disposal represents a significant cost to veterinary practices and their clients. For practices facing big or increasing medical waste disposal, you might be overpaying. Ensuring that you’re never paying a penny more than what is fair is good for business and for your clients.