Preventing Injury From Sharps

If you use syringes, needles and lancets as part of you diabetes care, it’s best to take steps to dispose of them safely.  You may have heard of the term “sharps”.  Sharps is a fancy medical term for any item that pokes or cuts our skin.  As an educator I always get asked the question, “how do I get rid of my needles?”  A number of people including sanitation workers, have been stuck by loose syringes and needles in the trash.  This causes needless cost and worry.  You can take these simple steps to help prevent injuries:

  • Never throw syringes, needles or lancets in the trash or recycling bins unless they are contained in a bottle.  
  • Find an empty heavy-duty bottle such as bleach, detergent, or shampoo bottle to keep your used sharps in.  Be sure the bottle is not clear or see through and you are able to close it with a tight-fitting lid.  It’s ideal to use a FDA-cleared sharps disposal container which are available through pharmacies, medical supply companies and online.
  • Label the bottle with a warning “Used Sharps.  Do Not Recycle”.  Keep out of reach for children and pets.
  • After you use a syringe, needle or lancet, drop it into the bottle. 
  • Don’t fill the bottle to the top - leave a few inches of space at the top.  Overfilling a bottle increases the risk of needle stick injury.  Once you are ready to dispose of the bottle, tightly close the bottle cap and seal the cap with tape.  
  • According to the FDA website (www.fda.gov) – “Sharps disposal guidelines and programs vary depending on where you live. Check with your local trash removal services or health department to see which of the following disposal methods are available in your area.  You may be able to drop off your sharps disposal containers at appropriate chosen collection sites, such as doctors' offices, hospitals, pharmacies, medical waste facilities, and police or fire stations. Services may be free or have a nominal fee. If you would like more information specific to your state, call Safe Needle Disposal at 1-800-643-1643.”

I have called the Safe Needle Disposal number several times and people on the other end are very helpful.  Their hours are 9-5 pm EST and they also have a website – www.safeneedledisposal.org – type in your zip code and they will locate a safe needle disposal location near you.  It’s easy and with a little bit of research you can keep everyone in the community safe.

By: Hollie Breedlove, MS, RD, CDE
Fit4D Certified Diabetes Educator