VA launches pilot program for cost-effective medical waste disposal

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has initiated a pilot program for the disposal of medical waste and unused dispensed medications generated outside hospitals and large healthcare facilities.

The program will take place within the VA Capitol Health Care Network, which provides healthcare for eligible veterans in Maryland and portions of Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.

The pilot, initiated in collaboration with the Houston-based Sharps Compliance Corp., allows each medical center in the VA Capitol Health Care Network (VISN 5) region, both inpatient and outpatient, to provide the Sharps Disposal By Mail System and the RxTakeAway solutions to patients.

VISN 5 is comprised of four medical centers, one rehabilitation and extended care center and 15 community-based outpatient clinics. The estimated veteran population in the VISN 5 geographic service area is 784,600 veterans.

In conjunction with the pilot program, each participating veteran will receive a survey so that VISN 5 administrators can gauge their perception of the program and ease of use.

Sharps is a provider of medical waste disposal solutions. The Sharps Disposal By Mail System is a solution for the containment, transportation, destruction and tracking of medical waste generated outside the large healthcare facility setting. RxTakeAway is a solution that facilitates the proper disposal of unused medications.

Burton J. Kunik, MD, chairman and CEO of Sharps, said that while the pilot is just an initial program, he is hopeful that it may be expanded throughout the Veterans Health Administration.

In December 2009, Sharps was awarded a five-year federal supply schedule contract by the U.S. General Services Administration. The GSA schedule provides a streamlined vehicle for federal government agencies to purchase Sharps products and services.

In February 2009, Sharps was awarded a $40 million contract with the U.S. government to provide its Sharps MWMS, a Medical Waste Management System.