Home healthcare is a rapidly growing industry, and safety is a concern. Improper disposal of needle syringes can spread blood-borne infections and injure others. What do you need to know about discarding needles?
Read on to learn about the correct way to get rid of medical waste and why it is important.
Why Is Proper Disposal of Needle Syringes Necessary?
Throwing needle syringes away uncapped or unprotected in a regular plastic trash bag or straight in a garbage bin is dangerous. If someone goes to remove the trash bag or a sanitation worker is dealing with your garbage bins on the curb, there is a chance they could get stabbed. According to a report, an estimated 2.7 per 100 sanitation and recycling center workers are injured by needlesticks.
A person’s risk of contracting a disease through a single needlestick injury is low. However, a rate of around 1 in 300 workers in the healthcare field get stuck by a needle with HIV pathogens and become sick. The risk of catching diseases like Hep B is much higher if the person who is stuck is not vaccinated.
Hepatitis C, varicella-zoster virus, Epstein-Barr virus, brucellosis, malaria, syphilis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tuberculosis, and toxoplasmosis are all able to spread through syringe needles. The invention of retractable needle syringes has helped cut down on the number of these types of injuries when used correctly.
How to Store Used Needle Syringes
People who use needles and syringes at home can buy a sharps disposal container similar to the ones seen in doctor’s offices. These containers are FDA-cleared, made from a rigid plastic, and have a fill line indicating when it is full. They are sold by drug stores, medical supply companies, doctors’ offices, and online.
Most areas allow alternatives if you cannot get an FDA-cleared container. An improvised sharps container must be made of heavy-duty plastic, have a lid, resist leaks, and have a label on the outside clearly indicating the contents. Empty laundry detergent, bleach, or softener bottles and coffee cans make acceptable needle receptacles.
Additionally, an inexpensive option meeting government regulations is a needle clipper. A needle clipper is a small, handheld device with a hole to insert a needle (28-31-gauge and 3/16″-1/2″).
With a click, the needle is snipped off from the syringe and safely stored within the device. The needle clipper locks in place and is capable of holding up to 1500 clipped needles. These are found at most places where you can purchase needle syringes, pharmacies, and online.
Where to Dispose of Needle Syringes
When your sharps container is almost full (about ¾), it is time to dispose of the needle syringes properly. Communities offer different types of disposal services, so these options may vary. A few methods are:
Locations such as drug stores, doctors’ offices, hospitals, community health departments, fire and police stations often have drop boxes. You can drop off your used needles in approved containers at these drop boxes often for free.
When you buy sharps containers, you may receive instructions for a mail-back program. The manufacturer includes directions with your purchase. There is a fee to send in your container for disposal, depending on size.
Some areas offer pick-up services where professionals in PPE will collect containers from homes. However, most services require you to call ahead or pay a fee to participate.
Dispose of Your Medical Waste Responsibility
Needle syringes are a significant source of injury and infection. By throwing away your medical waste properly, you can protect yourself and others from these risks.
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