Needles and sharps containers go hand in hand. What would the health care industry look like without introducing and using sharps containers in offices and clinics? That’s an increased risk of needlesticks and exposure to bloodborne pathogens if you think about it! But what happens once a sharps container is full? In this article, you’ll explore how to properly dispose of a sharps container and avoid unwanted exposure to pathogens.
Special Waste Pickup
Some communities provide pickup services for sharps containers, so long as they fall within specific guidelines pertaining to the company. Depending on the pick-service, they can assign a particular sharps container specific to their business or will allow you to use one you already own.
Some guidelines require you to place the container outside of the clinic or residence—if you’re caring for a patient in their home—for trained handlers to dispose of. Some programs will require a call beforehand to retrieve the filled container, while others can create a regular pickup schedule.
Household Hazardous Waste Collection Sites
Fortunately, some household hazardous waste sites can collect your filled sharps container. These sites are usually responsible for the handling and disposal of household cleaners, motor oil, and paints.
Mail-back programs are pretty straightforward, as they allow you to send particular FDA-cleared sharps containers through the mail. However, it’s essential to note that some of these programs require a fee to use their services, and the costs can vary depending on the container size.
Before using this service, inquire about specific requirements you’ll need to meet and make sure you follow manufacturer instructions to help make disposal easier.
Autoclave or Incinerator
When it comes to medical offices, the final step for sharps waste disposal is through the use of an autoclave. This machine uses pressured steam to kill bacteria and microorganisms. Sometimes, sharps tools go through incineration; however, this is a less common approach usually seen with chemotherapy sharps.
Knowing how to dispose of a sharps container properly is necessary to ensure the safety of providers, assistants, and patients. Remember to always check with your local trash removal service and local health department before doing so for safe disposal programs.