How to Dispose of Sharps

How to Dispose of Sharps

Every year, 7 billion sharps get gotten rid of in the United States. A few of that trash has been used to help keep people with diabetes healthy. The lancets and glucose sensing unit introducer needles that become part of blood glucose tracking are sharps, as are the syringe, pen, and infusion set introducer needles that provide life-sustaining insulin. But what’s excellent for individuals with diabetes might be bad for sanitation workers and other unsuspecting individuals who deal with trash.

Disposing of Sharps

Up to 850,000 people are hurt every year by sharps, inning accordance with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That number consists of just injuries associated with home waste, not events at healthcare centers, says Victoria Wagman, senior science health consultant in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “There are injuries in terms of garbage disposal, cleaning individuals who get garbage, individuals involved in home care, and kids, who in some cases reach into the trash,” she adds.

Sharps in home waste can carry contagious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. To secure individuals from these lethal illness, sharps have to be safely sequestered. Determining what to do with sharps takes some effort, however the payoff in public health is worth it.

It’s crucial to properly deal with sharps from your diabetes supplies to secure others from possible harm, must they in some way pierce themselves, inning accordance with Andrea Penney, BSN, Registered Nurse, C.D.E., at Joslin Diabetes Center. Injury might cause a regional infection. If the individual who initially used the sharps had a favorable blood born pathogen, such as hepatitis or HIV, the injured might get the exact same disease.

Location, Location, Location

No nationwide regulations inform individuals how and where to get rid of sharps. “The key is that a lot of this is regulated at the county and regional levels. Typically, that is where you will get your details,” states Wagman. “It does make it hard.” One good location to start is the state-by-state guide to needle disposal assembled by device maker BD ( To learn more about sharps disposal, contact your local government’s sanitation or health department. Depending on your locality’s rules, you might have options about safe sharps disposal.

See also: Insulin Pen Needles

Selecting a Container

The first choice you need to make relating to sharps is what to use as the disposal container. “Loose sharps are the worst thing,” states Wagman. “The best thing is to put [sharps] in an FDA-approved container.” There are purpose-made containers, however you can make your own variation. The authorized boxes are made of thick plastic and specifically developed to securely save sharps, as long as they’re used appropriately. First, of course, you need to get your hands on one.

Such sharps containers typically aren’t free, though the FDA says that some doctors, pharmacists, medication providers, and medical facilities hand them out. Talk to your pharmacist about free sources. Heidi Sanborn, executive director of the California Product Stewardship Council, a group that is dealing with sharps legislation, isn’t really aware of any free sharps containers offered to everyone. The concern of who needs to pay for sharps containers is a hot problem. In California, advocacy groups are pushing legislation that would make needle and insulin manufacturers pay the bill. “We believe that the manufacturers ought to and remain in the best position to develop a cost-effective system [for sharps disposal],” states Sanborn.

For now, check with your insurance provider to see if it covers some or all of the cost of sharps containers. Sanborn says a state-based medical insurance program for low-income people in California products containers, but that’s the just one she understands of. “Most people need to buy them separately, which is why they don’t purchase them,” she says.

If you can’t discover a complimentary container and your insurance won’t spend for one, there might be another option. “We recommend a laundry detergent container,” states Wagman. “It’s really thick plastic.” The jug should be plainly identified (see “Make Your Own Sharps Container”) and sealed with heavy tape so that anybody handling the container understands it contains sharps and should not be recycled.

Safe Disposal

Putting sharps containers in the garbage is legal in some areas. To avoid putting sanitation workers and others at risk, if you take this path, make certain to put the container in the center of the bag, surrounded by other trash. That isn’t an option in other places. “They’ve been totally banned from the trash because 2008 in California,” says Sanborn.

If the garbage isn’t really a choice, think about a mail-back program. Special sharps containers can be sent out through the mail for disposal; the shipping cost is included in their price. A quart-sized mail-back container might cost $35, though buying in bulk gets you a steep discount. Instructions for returning the sharps-filled container are consisted of. For additional disposal approaches, consult your city government, pharmacist, or doctor about drop-off areas. “Just having that conversation and building awareness is so essential,” says Wagman. While you’re on the phone, ask about whether pickup services for home medical garbage disposal are readily available in your area.

If everyone with diabetes followed safe practices for sharps disposal, less individuals would get injured. Correct sharps disposal will only end up being more important as the variety of people using injected medications increases. “There are more sharps being used than before,” states Wagman. “We wish to make certain people understand it’s a huge problem.”

Also read: Diabetes Lancets

Sharps Don’ts

Following these nine guidelines will help keep sanitation workers, children, yourself, and others safe from needle sticks.

  • Don’t throw loose sharps in the trash.
  • Do not put sharps in recycling bins.
  • Do not keep sharps containers where children can reach them.
  • Do not flush sharps down the toilet.
  • Do not use glass bottles, plastic water bottles, milk jugs or containers, or soda cans as do-it-yourself sharps containers.
  • Don’t fill sharps containers past the fill line or two-thirds complete, and do not force needles within.
  • Do not wait. Put your sharps into the container immediately after use.
  • Don’t bend or break needles.
  • Do not summarize others’ needles; if you don’t have a sharps container, you might wish to carefully evaluate your own needles.

Also read: How to Get Free Diabetes Test Strips

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