Sharps are some of the most dangerous medical items that anyone can have in the home. The potential infection from an accidental stab with an infected needle can cause harmful medical emergencies. The Coalition for Safe Community Needle Disposal estimates that Americans Discard 7.8 Billion Needles Every Year. With this volume of sharps, there is a high priority on proper disposal of household sharps for the safety of family and household members. The quantity of sharps being used will continue to rise as the average life span increases and more pharmaceutical companies turn to sharps for medication delivery. Proper disposal eliminates the chance of sharps sticks as well as accidents and environmental harm when they end up in landfills.
Sharps are considered to be any item that can pierce the skin that has the potential to transmit infectious diseases, bacteria, or viruses. While most people think of hypodermic needles, sharps can include syringes, lancets, pen needles, broken glass or plastic.
After use, sharps should never be left in the open, placed in trash cans, or in any container that can break or collapse such as coffee cans, bottles, or aluminum cans. There are a number of options that patients can take in the way that they store sharps. Sources such as a medical waste disposal company to get containers specifically designed for sharps disposal that are sturdy, allow sharp-end first disposal, and are sealable. Another option for home storage of sharps is a laundry detergent bottle made of hard plastic with a screw on lid.
Each state has specific laws and guidelines for official sharps disposal. In many cases, you can take sharps that have been placed in a sturdy container to hospitals that have in-house disposal or have pickup arrangements with a licensed and trained medical waste disposal company. Some states allow you to take the container of sharps to medical facilities and doctor’s offices that accept used sharps. There are other options that can include mail-in programs that require strict guidelines to follow.
There are needle destruction devices that you can purchase. Some devices simple cut the sharp, rendering it less harmful, so that the container can be taken to a proper disposal location. Other more sophisticated devices make use of high heat that can melt or incinerate the sharps, reducing them to small BB-sized balls. Once the metals are melted, the remaining syringe can be safely disposed of in standard trash.
Medical waste disposal companies maintain all local, state, and federal information and can assist you in making the decision that is right for you.
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