Disposing of sharps in a safe manner is essential to proper medical waste disposal procedures. Sharps can cause serious harm to staff and patients, and also to members of the medical waste disposal industry if they’re not handled properly. There are many medical waste disposal regulations surrounding the handling and disposal of sharps, and it’s crucial to follow all of those regulations as well as follow some standard safety precautions. Here are some dos and don’ts of dealing with sharps at a medical facility.
Don’t use the regular trash. Loose needles and syringes without caps on should never be placed into the garbage. Needles can puncture the bag and injure someone or cause infection.
Do use the appropriate disposal container. Sharps and needles need to be placed in approved sharps disposal containers that adhere to medical waste disposal regulations. That way, the needles cannot puncture through and cause injury.
Don’t use the toilet to dispose of sharps. Using the toilet will release potential highly toxic and deadly substances into our environment and water supply. Never flush sharps down the toilet. It should also be mentioned that this is a great way to clog your toilet as well.
Do use disposal containers that are FDA certified. The medical waste disposal industry has certain standards that must be followed when it comes to medical waste containers. They should be provided to you by your waste disposal company. If you don’t currently have a professional company doing the disposal for you, you should purchase the appropriate containers.
Do follow all medical waste disposal regulations and guidelines mandated by federal, state, and local authorities. You can leave yourself at great financial and even criminal liability if you do not comply with laws and regulations.
Don’t put sharps or needles out with your recycling. Just like with the trash, needles can puncture the bag and cause harm. Even if you do your recycling in a dumpster or in solid plastic boxes, there is still the risk of harming the disposal staff and releasing toxins into the environment.
Do seal your containers and clearly label them. Different sharps may have different guidelines attached to their disposal, so make sure that everyone knows what is inside each container so everything is handled correctly.
Don’t do anything to alter any sharps or needles. That means breaking them in half, bending them, or removing components. Simply deposit them in their appropriate containers and be done with them. If you need to remove a needle, then make sure to use the proper needle clipper, otherwise you may drop the needle or injure someone.
Do follow medical waste disposal industry guidelines at home as well. If you use sharps for personal use, such as for insulin, then the public health department should be able to advise you of the correct and safe ways to dispose of your sharps. Many healthcare providers will also give you the appropriate containers.
Do make sure that pets and children cannot access sharps at any time. If they come into contact with them, take them to a doctor as soon as possible.
Handling medical waste is not a task that should be taken lightly. It is highly dangerous to our health, and the health of the environment. Make sure to follow all guidelines and regulations to make sure that your facility is compliant and safe.