Medical Sharps Disposal and Management

Medical Sharps Disposal and Management

Selecting the Right Sharps Disposal Container For Your Facility

Accidental needle sticks are one of the biggest injury risks to workers in the medical profession. The proper disposal of sharps is meant to mitigate that risk, but only works when you have the right types of containers in the right places. Carefully evaluate your needs for sharps containers before hand to institute procedures that are effective at maintaining patient care while keeping staff members safe.

When choosing a sharps disposal system for your hospital, doctor’s office or other clinical setting, you should be looking at the following factors:

  • The layout of your facility
  • The specific procedures practiced in various rooms
  • Your protocols for patient care
  • The convenience of the attending medical staff
  • The comfort of the patients

Following the following guidelines set forth by NIOSH will assist you in finding the correct places for sharp containers in your facility; “Sharps disposal containers that are functional, accessible, secure from patient or visitor tampering (if necessary), visible, and convenient to use will decrease the risk of percutaneous sharps injury”.

Requirements for Sharps Containers in a Medical Setting

The OSHA regulations are clear when it comes to the design of sharps disposal containers. They must be closable containers made from a puncture proof material. They cannot allow for leaks from the bottom or sides and they should be labeled or color coded for easy identification. To protect patients and other non-medical personnel, these boxes must be locked and secured in place to prevent anyone from being able to access the contents inside.

In regards to their use, sharps containers must remain upright and be easily accessible in a location that a health care worker would anticipate. This could be on the wall behind a procedure table or secured to the table top. Sharps containers cannot be allowed to overfill, and must be replaced routinely with an empty one.

In settings where only one patient is seen inside of a room at a time, there is no need for more than one sharps disposal container. This changes in emergency type settings where you may need to place multiple containers strategically around the room for the convenience of your medical staff.

Put yourself in the shoes of the clinician, nurse, or physician that will be providing care to the patient to help in choosing the right location. For ideal safety and effective medical sharps disposal the container should be within arm’s reach after administering any medication or vaccination. Staff members should not have to move items out of the way to access the sharps container, or walk a long distance. The longer the used sharp is in their possession, the greater the risk of accident or harm.

Sharp containers come in various sizes to suit different needs. To optimize the placement of yours, consider asking for help from your medical waste disposal service provider. By evaluating your needs and assessing the layout of your institution, they can help you in the choosing the right types of boxes and locations for the safety of your patients.

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