A hospital macerator is a human waste disposal machine, found in sluice rooms (sometimes known as dirty utility rooms), designed to hygienically dispose of single use pulp containers, human waste, toilet tissue and maceratable wipes. A macerator works by first saturating the contents of the machine with water and then breaking it down with cutter blades into a fine slurry. At the end of the cycle, the machine discharges this waste to the drain and the inside of the machine is rinsed with clean water.
Hospital macerators are the most hygienic method of human waste disposal. The alternative method is to use plastic or stainless-steel bedpans, that have to be cleaned by hand or in a bedpan washer, before being reused by other patients. This is an unpleasant task for healthcare professionals, and as many bedpan washers do not reach the optimal temperature to thoroughly disinfect and eradicate any harmful microorganisms, it also puts patients at risk of cross infection.
Using macerators and single use items ensures that every bedpan and its contents can be safely disposed of, whilst a brand new bedpan can be used for the next patient. The use of disposables has been further advocated by the World Health Organization during the COVID-19 pandemic who stated that “equipment should be single-use and disposable¹” to minimise the risk of transmission.