Living with diabetes is not an easy job. At times it creates mess, and dealing with it sometimes becomes a challenge. Following diet, exercise or taking medications is not the only thing you have to do. You also need to check blood sugars, inject insulin and change lancets, needles and syringes from time-to-time. Have you ever wondered, what to do with these sharp things?
You shouldn’t throw them in the household trash for sure. Or, never place loose needles and other sharps in the public trash cans or recycling bins, and never flush them down the toilet. This puts trash and sewage workers, housekeepers, household members, and children at risk of being harmed.
Sharps is a medical term for devices with sharp points or edges that can puncture or cut skin. And, every year millions and million sharp are used by people with diabetes. Just imagine, if they are not disposed of properly, they can injure people and pets. They can even spread infections such as HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C, if not disposed safely. That’s why safe sharps disposal is important whether you are at home, at work, at school, traveling, or in other public place.
Where should I dispose my sharps?
All used sharps should be immediately discarded into a specified sharps container. FDA-approved sharps containers are generally available through pharmacies, medical supply companies, health care providers and online. These containers are made of puncture-resistant plastic with leak-resistant sides and bottom. They also have a tight fitting, puncture-resistant lid.
However, you can make your own version of sharp container at home. A solid, hard, non-see-through plastic container, the one which can’t break or crack like an old laundry detergent or fabric softener bottle can be used as a dedicated sharps container.
While disposing sharps, don’t try to recap or clip a needle that has been used by another person. This can lead to accidental needle sticks, which may cause serious infections. Don’t attempt to remove the needle without the safe-clipper device because the needles could fall, fly off, or get lost and injure someone.
After disposal, you should store your sharp bin in a safe place inside your home and keep all sharps out of reach of children or pets at all times. To ensure the bin is not dangerous to others, you should not remove the lid once it contains waste. Once you have placed a sharp object into your sharps bin, you should not try and take it out again as it can cause an injury. Sharps should be placed into the bin one at a time, and in one piece. They should not be bent, broken or dismantled before being put in.
What to do when the sharp container is full?
When your sharps bin is almost two thirds full you should seal the lid securely with durable tape and label the container with something like “Contains Sharps” so it’s clear as to what’s inside! You should not fill your sharps bin above the full line, nor force sharps into a full bin by trying to push them down further and risk hurting yourself.
As sharps are classed as clinical waste, special arrangements need to be made for their disposal, which can vary from area to area. Check with your trash pickup company about their policy on sharps disposal. You can also dispose sharps to your pharmacy or doctor’s clinic and check if they offer a sharps collection service. Local disposal regulations vary, so call your local health department for more information.
Travelling with sharps
When you travel with diabetes, carry a “travel letter” from your physician stating you have diabetes and giving you permission to carry all your sharps and a portable container to dispose. Check the guidelines about sharps disposal in foreign countries which should be available from the national diabetes body wherever you are visiting.
What to do if you are accidently stuck by a used needle or other sharp
If you are accidently stuck by another person’s used needle or other sharp:
- Wash the exposed area right away with water and soap or use a skin disinfectant (antiseptic) such as rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.
- Seek immediate medical attention by calling your physician or local hospital.
Take care and stay safe.
From the Expert Desk
Ms. Bhawana Rani
She is a proficient diabetes expert and a passionate medical writer. She has over 9 years of experience in the field of diabetes and nutrition. She specializes in educating and developing teaching and training tools for patients and healthcare professionals on different aspects of diabetes education and management. Apart from diabetes, her special interest is writing on various other subjects like health, lifestyle, wellness, nutrition and research.