Waste Today Magazine - Sep 24, 2018
A Tampa, Florida, medical waste service company, Sharps MD, is facing administrative action from various state and federal regulatory entities regarding the unlawful storage, management, and transportation of regulated medical waste. Florida Department of Health reports state that inspectors found the violations during repeated visits to Sharps MD in June and July. According to inspection reports filed by Hillsborough and Pinellas County Department of Health representatives, Sharps MD was found to be in possession of over 12 trailer loads of unprocessed medical waste that had been stockpiled for over a year on the company’s leased property at 5438 West Crenshaw Street in Tampa. Florida statutes prohibit the storage of medical wastes beyond 30 days. Attorneys representing the state of Florida have yet to issue a formal administrative action against the company, though preliminary assessments put this pending fine at approximately $40,000. This amount would represent one of the largest fines the Florida Department of Health has ever issued against a medical waste service company. According to Florida representatives, the delay in issuing administrative action against the company is partly due to the investigation’s findings that the company’s activities involve multiple counties and also document potential violations of various federal regulations involving medical waste management activities overseen by entities including the Environmental Protection Agency, Drug Enforcement Agency, U.S. Department of Transportation, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This additional activity, documented through inspection reports acknowledged by Sharps MD representatives, involves improper management of pharmaceutical wastes, improper labeling of wastes and the transportation of wastes across state lines in unregistered leased vehicles without required interstate endorsements to transport hazardous materials. According to the Department of Health inspection reports, Sharps MD was ordered to dispose of identified wastes earlier this year at the time stockpiled wastes were identified. Reports indicate that the identified hazardous material was transported by Sharps MD representatives in private vehicles leased from Budget Rental across state lines to a medical waste processing facility in Indiana. Sharps MD reported that wastes were delivered to MedAssure Services for treatment. MedAssure, headquartered in Lakewood, New Jersey, was issued a $26,000 fine by the Indiana Department of Labor earlier this year for violations of various workplace safety violations. According to state of Florida corporation records, Sharps MD is part of network of 10 different legal entities all registered with similar or identical company officers and addresses in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. These different legal entities claim activities involving franchising, the manufacture of medical waste processing equipment, and software services in addition to medical waste collection and disposal activities. The various companies have been—and are currently—listed as defendants in litigation regarding business negligence, franchise issues, contract disputes and debt obligations according to state of Florida and federal court records. According to state of Florida records, Sharps MD is a wholly owned subsidiary of Waste Alliance Inc., a Tarpon Springs, Florida-based company whose primary activity involves the sale of medical waste franchises. Sharps MD and their associated legal entities are also the subject of numerous customer complaints regarding fraudulent charges for non-performance of contracted collection activity according to public reviews. The Florida Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division encourages any party to report suspected fraud or unfair trade practices to them directly at (866)966-7226. State of Florida Department of Health representatives have not communicated any expected dates when their work will be concluded or what specific action will ultimately be taken against Sharps MD for documented Department of Health violations.