There's always questions about what should and shouldn't be placed into the red "biohazard" bin in your office. The good news is, it's easy to tell you what doesn't go in there. Household trash belongs in the wastebasket, and pharmaceutical and trace chemo goes in the blue and yellow containers, respectively. But what does go in the red bin you've got?
Any item that has come into contact with one of your patients should be treated as hazardous
Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) is any waste from your facility that has the potential to harm anyone who comes in contact the material. Here's some examples:
Items containing liquid or semi-liquid blood
Items that would release blood or a potentially infectious body fluid if compressed
Items caked with dried blood or a potentially infectious body fluid
Any other potentially infectious materials
These items can easily encompass many of the tools you may be using to do your job, but "potential" is the important part here. This means that any item that has come into contact with one of your patients should be treated as hazardous. This includes gloves, needles, swabs, or anything in between. Think of it this way: if your trash bag ripped and someone cleaned it up without gloves on, could they harmed, either immediately (an exposed needle) or in the future (an infectious material)?
Keep in mind that regulators don't know your patients history. Even if YOU know that the patient that the cotton swab came from was a model of perfect health doesn't mean they do! In order for you to remain compliant, it's important that you're disposing of any and all potentially infectious materials in the RMW bin.