Sharps is a medical term used for objects that have sharp points or edges that can wound the skin. These are used everywhere to manage medical conditions of people or their pets. Some common illnesses that may require the use of sharps include allergies, arthritis, diabetes, hepatitis, and migraines.
As commonly as they are used, the general public should be aware of the proper sharps disposal to avoid any potentially dangerous consequences from happening.
More than seven billion sharps are disposed of every year in the United States alone. Careful and accurate sharps disposal is a vital health concern because it exposes a wide range of people from sanitation workers and sewage janitors to children the risk of injury or the transmittal of diseases such as Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV), and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
For Blood or Body Fluid Contaminated Needles
It’s imperative to take note that contaminated needles should never be re-sheathed. For healthcare professionals, remember to not transport syringes with needles to other locations such as laboratories without using syringe caps or other appropriate devices. Also, following serious incidents in the past, never remove the hub of the hypodermic needle to obtain blood from newborn children or animals.
For Non-Blood Contaminated Needles
Care must be taken with needles that have been utilized for drawing up purposes to prevent the injection of the contents of the syringe into a person which would cause possible harmful side effects.
For Other Non-Disposable Sharps
Another product that is often used is the scalpel blade. Scalpel blades are to be removed from handles using removal kits that are made explicitly for forceps. Needles also must be removed from its holders.
All sharps should be immediately placed in proper disposal containers that are FDA-approved. These sharps containers are generally available at medical supply companies, pharmacies, health care providers, and online. These containers are puncture-resistant plastic and leak-resistant on all sides and the bottom with a tight-fitting, puncture-resistant lid. If an FDA-cleared container is not immediately available, a heavy-duty container may be used as an alternative. It’s also important to note not to overfill a container. This will increase the risk of injury.
The Medical Waste Regulatory Act
After putting the used sharps in a safe container, disposal of these containers should be done next. There are community-specific guidelines on how this should be done. In Michigan, the Medical Waste Regulatory act is the law that governs how the disposal of medical waste should be done by authorized organizations. To dispose of your containers, there may be supervised collection sites, mail-back programs, or they can be picked up by a trained specialist.
When Accidents Happen
If accidentally punctured with sharps, it’s recommended to force the wound to bleed while placing it under running water. Wash the affected area with soap and water. Afterward, cover it with proper dressing. Do not ever suck the blood out of the wound, and seek immediate medical attention to prevent infections.