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Sharps Management

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Medical Sharps Management and Disposal

Medical Sharps Management and Disposal. When it comes to the safe handling of medical sharps in your facility, there is no room for error. Improper storage, handling, and disposal of these items can lead to potential risks for your staff members as well as patients. This isn’t something you can take lightly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently indicated that unsafe handling of sharps represents a serious risk of contracting bloodborne diseases such as hepatitis or HIV from these devices if precautions aren’t taken. In other words, this is an area where you cannot afford to make mistakes and must adopt practices that reduce the risks to your staff members and patients to an absolute minimum. In this document, we will explore the various types of sharps that require proper management within healthcare facilities, along with their various pros and cons when it comes to keeping them safe and secure while also disposing of them in a way that doesn’t pose any risk to your staff members or patients.

medical sharps management

What Are Medical Sharps?

Medical sharps, also known as sharps, sharps is a medical term for devices with sharp points or edges that can puncture or cut skin. This can include items such as lancets, syringes, needles, scalpels, and other items used in medical procedures. These types of devices often come into contact with blood or other bodily fluids during use, which makes them a potential source of infectious disease if they are handled or disposed of improperly. They may be used at in a medical setting, at home, at work, and while traveling to manage the medical conditions of people or their pets, including allergies, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, infertility, migraines, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, blood clotting disorders, and psoriasis.

Sharps Basics

The DOs and DON’Ts of Proper Sharps Disposal as per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

DO immediately place used needles and other sharps in a sharps disposal container to reduce the risk of needle sticks, cuts, or punctures from loose sharps.

DO use an FDA-cleared sharps disposal container, if possible. If an FDA-cleared container is not available, some organizations and community guidelines recommend using a heavy-duty plastic household container as an alternative.

DO make sure that if a household container is used, it has the basic features of a good disposal container.

DO carry a portable sharps disposal container for travel.

DO follow your community guidelines for getting rid of your sharps disposal container.

DO call your local trash or public health department (listed in the county and city government section of your phone book) to find out about sharps disposal programs in your area.

DO ask your health care provider, veterinarian, local hospital, or pharmacist

  1. Where and how to get an FDA-cleared sharps disposal container,
  2. If they can dispose of your used needles and other sharps, or
  3. If they know of sharps disposal programs near you.

DO keep all sharps and sharps disposal containers out of reach of children and pets.

DO seal sharps disposal containers when disposing of them, label them properly and check your community guidelines on how to properly dispose of them.

DO ask your medical or prescription insurer whether they cover sharps disposal containers.

DO ask the manufacturer of your drug products that are used with a needle or other sharps if they provide a sharps disposal container to patients at no charge.

DO report a problem associated with sharps and disposal containers.

DON’T throw loose needles and other sharps into the trash.

DON’T flush needles and other sharps down the toilet.

DON’T put needles and other sharps in your recycling bin — they are not recyclable.

DON’T try to remove, bend, break, or recap needles used by another person. This can lead to accidental needle sticks, which may cause serious infections.

DON’T attempt to remove the needle without a needle clipper because the needle could fall, fly off, or get lost and injure someone.

Why Sharps Disposal Containers Are Important

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Improper sharps disposal is another significant cause of sharps injury in the workplace. Injuries related to improper sharps disposal can occur for the following reasons:

Inappropriate sharps disposal practices by the worker, such as insufficient maintenance of sharps containers in every area. Designated staff should monitor the fill level of all containers, prohibit placement of nonsharps waste in a sharps container, and ensure that all staff are educated in proper sharps disposal.

Improper design of sharps disposal container.

Improper selection of sharps containers for the procedures being performed (e.g., surgical instruments)

Overfilling sharps disposal container.

Guidelines: Sharps disposal containers

The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) used focus groups to determine the critical elements needed for secure and safe sharps disposal containers. The results of these studies suggest the importance of four criteria: functionality, accessibility, visibility, and accommodation.

dispose of sharps containers

Functionality: Containers should be puncture-resistant, durable during installation and transport, and an appropriate size and shape. The closure should be secure and minimize exposure during closure.

Accessibility: Containers should be upright and easy to operate while preventing the contents from spilling. The container should be placed in a visible location, within easy horizontal reach, and below eye level. The container should also be placed away from any obstructed areas, such as near doors, under sinks, near light switches, etc.

Visibility: Containers should be clearly visible to the health care worker. The container should be designed so that workers may be able to easily determine the container’s fill status and distinguish any warning labels.

Accommodation: Containers should facilitate ease of storage and assembly, require minimal worker training requirements, be easy to operate, and have a flexible design. A container should also easily accommodate one-handed disposal of a sharps device. Product design should minimize sharp surfaces and cross-infection hazards. Installation and mounting systems should be safe, durable, stable, and cleanable.

Protecting Yourself When Handling Sharps

medical waste disposal guidance

According to the CDC, data shows that the risk of a sharps injury begins at the moment sharps are first exposed and ends once sharps are permanently removed from exposure in the work environment. Therefore, to promote safe work practices, healthcare personnel need to have an awareness of the risk of injury throughout the time sharps are exposed.  They should also use a combination of strategies to protect themselves and their coworkers through the handling of the device. Prepare to use the device the moment the sharps are first exposed. Take precautions while using sharps. Take precautions during cleanup. Take precautions during disposal.

Before Beginning a Procedure, Identify the location of the sharps disposal container.  If moveable, place it as near the point of use as appropriate for immediate sharps disposal.  If sharps are reusable, determine in advance to where sharps will be placed for safe handling after use, you should be prepared. Organize equipment at the point of use, make sure the workspace has adequate lighting, keep sharps pointed away from the user. Locate a sharps disposal container, assess the patient’s ability to cooperate, get help if needed, ask the patient to avoid sudden movement.

During a Procedure, during a procedure that involves the use of needles and other sharps devices you should, maintain visual contact with sharps during use, be aware of staff nearby, control the location of sharps to avoid injury to yourself and others, do not handpass exposed sharps from one person to another, use predetermined neutral zone for placing/retrieving sharps, alert others when sharps are being passed, activate safety feature of devices with engineered sharps injury prevention features as soon as procedure is completed, observe audible or visual cues that confirm the feature is locked in place.

During Cleanup, during cleanup following a procedure, you should be accountable for sharps you use.  You should dispose of any sharp object that you personally use, visually inspect procedure trays or other surfaces (including patient beds) containing waste materials for exposed sharps used during a procedure before handling them, look for sharps that may have been left inadvertently after the procedure, transport reusable sharps in a closed container, secure the container to prevent the spillage of contents.

Disposing of Sharps, visually inspect the sharps container for hazards caused by overfilling, you should also make sure the sharps container being used is large enough to accommodate the entire device, keep your hands behind the tip of any sharps, avoid bringing the hands close to the opening of a sharps container, never place hands or fingers into a container to facilitate disposal of a device, if you are disposing of sharps with attached tubing, such as a winged-steel or butterfly needle, be aware that the tubing can recoil and lead to injury, be sure to maintain control of the tubing as well as the needle when disposing of the device.

After Disposing of Sharps, visually inspect the outside of waste container for evidence of protruding sharps. If found, notify safety personnel so they can appropriately dispose of the sharps container, replace sharps containers before they become overfilled, if a sharps container is overfilled, place a new container and use forceps or tongs to remove protruding devices and place them in the new container, keep filled sharps containers awaiting final disposal in a secure area.

Sharps Disposal Guidelines

The Alliance for Sharps Safety and Needlestick Prevention has found that 80% of sharps injuries can be prevented with the use of safety engineered devices, worker training and worker practice controls. Preventing sharps injuries requires involvement of staff at all levels. You are part of the sharps injury prevention process when you, adhere to safe practices and assist and support coworkers in safer practices, report injuries exposures to blood or body fluids, sharps injury hazards, and near misses, participate in training for devices and properly use sharps safety features, participate in surveys and device evaluations.

Sharps Management

Sharps Management. No matter what kind of sharp tools or medical instruments your office or hospital uses to complete day-to-day work, having a proper disposal system in place to contain these sharp objects is critical to ensuring the safety of staff and patients. We offer safe disposal services and solutions for a variety of industries in the Midwest.

Sharps Management for Medical Professionals 

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Proper Sharps Disposal is Essential in Protecting Your Staff and Patients

In medicine, doctors and other medical professionals use a variety of needles, syringes, and scalpels to properly treat patients. Sharps containers and management services ensure that people are safe from contamination and injury by way of contact. To achieve this, sharps must be disposed of immediately after use in a leak-proof, puncture-proof container that has the ability to close and have specific labels deeming it biohazardous. Together with proper disposal and safe removal, we can reduce the risks associated with sharps, including coming into contact with contagious bloodborne pathogens. Bio-MED Medical Waste Transporters has a variety of sharps management containers to keep your business, staff, and patients safe from injury. Contact us today to set up your sharps services.

What Kind of Sharps Containers Do You Need? The size and shape of your sharps container will depend on what you are disposing of and how often you use it. Obviously, the more you use objects such as needles and syringes, the more volume you will have to dispose of safely. Larger sharps containers might be more ideal for your profession. To get a better idea of what size would work best for you, head over to explore our sharps management products.