Understanding medical sharps, safe disposal options

Sunday Signal
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If you’re among the millions of people in the United States who suffer from a chronic illness, you may use “sharps” to manage your medical condition at home or on the go. For example, many people with diabetes self-inject at least two insulin shots every day, and conditions including allergies, arthritis, cancer, infertility, migraines and psoriasis, among others, may also require the use of a sharp to administer medication.

A medical term for devices with sharp points or edges that can puncture or cut skin, sharps may be used at home, at work and while traveling to manage medical conditions. Examples of sharps include:

Needles ine, slender, hollow pieces of metal used to inject medication under the skin

Syringes evices to which needles are attached in order to inject medication into or withdraw fluid from the body

Lancets, also called “fingersticks” 
instruments with a short, two-edged blade used to get drops of blood for testing

Auto injectors, including epinephrine pens syringes pre-filled with fluid medication designed to be self-injected into the body

Infusion sets ubing system with a needle used to deliver drugs to the body

Connection needles eedles that connect to a tube used to transfer fluids in and out of the body

However, disposing of those medical sharps safely may be a concern. In fact, in interviews conducted by SafeNeedleDisposal.org with sharps users, people who use needles and lancets to manage their medical conditions believe it is their responsibility to dispose of sharps safely, but lack clear, factual information on how to do so.

Existing information does not always personalize disposal guidelines for people in every state or locality.

“SafeNeedleDisposal.org helps people in the United States make sense of safe sharps disposal options nearest to their home, work or wherever is convenient,” said Larry Ellingson, vice president of the National Diabetes Volunteer Leadership Council.

“This resource is much needed for people who regularly use needles to manage health conditions like diabetes and want to do the right thing with their used sharps.”  

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, sharps not disposed of properly may cause injury. Consider these three steps for safe and proper sharps disposal:

 lace used sharps in an FDA-cleared sharps disposal container or a strong plastic container such as an empty laundry detergent or bleach bottle. 

 eal the container with duct tape and label it “do not recycle.”

 or most sharps users, place the sealed container in the household trash, never the recycling. A resource like SafeNeedleDisposal.org can be used to look up local disposal guidelines by zip code.

For more information on safe disposal of sharps, visit SafeNeedleDisposal.org. (Family Features)

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