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What’s Going in That Sharps Container?

Sharps containers aren’t just for needles. What else goes in that sharps container?

If you’ve ever had blood drawn or received a vaccination at a healthcare facility, then you’ve probably seen the practitioner drop the needle into a sharps container. These containers are crucial for infection prevention; they are rigid, puncture-proof, and have lids that seal securely to prevent the contents from spilling out. What you might not know is that sharps containers aren’t just for needles. “Sharps” is the medical term for any sharp-pointed object that can cut or puncture the skin.

So what else is going into that sharps container?

Because sharps have potential disease-carrying blood or other potentially infectious materials on them, they are capable of spreading disease.

Other examples of sharps waste includes:

  • Suture needles, scalpel blades, butterflies
  • Diabetic lancets and insulin needles
  • Vacutainer tubes (blood collection tube), both plastic and glass
  • Phlebotomy needles with vacutainer tube holder attached
  • Capillary tubes, both plastic and glass
  • IV catheters
  • Dental wires and endodontic files
  • Expired or used epinephrine auto-injectors

Implementing a sharps safety program is the best defense against improperly using a sharps container. OSHA recommends that institutions look at their needle devices to determine safety and check how sharps are being handled and disposed of.

Staff should be reminded to never use sharps containers as regular waste receptacles. Not only is this unsafe, it is also costly for waste generators, as the waste hauler must segregate the waste.

According to the FDA, sharps disposal guidelines state:

  • Used sharps can only be disposed of in a sharps container
  • Sharps containers may be supplied by companies such as Red Bags
  • Sharps containers must be rigid and puncture-proof

A sharps management program is a proactive service to help healthcare facilities improve environmental and employee safety. Don’t be ill-prepared! Contact Red Bags to discuss a tailored sharps waste management solution to suit your organization’s needs and budget!

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