Last week at a client home visit, I happened to be there at the right time to do some health education. My client is a diabetic and I was there when she was testing her blood sugar. She had great technique (I was impressed)- except for one big thing: proper disposal of her lancets and insulin needles. These were being thrown out in the regular garbage. This is a hazardous practice for so many reasons. To name a few:
- Discarded needles may expose sanitation workers to potential needle stick injuries and infection when containers break open inside garbage trucks.
- In public places, janitors risk injury if loose sharps poke through plastic garbage bags. At home, whoever takes out the trash may get stuck with the needle.
While at my client’s home, I realized that over the past three years- I have run into this issue at least once a month. That being said, it was time for me to get on my soapbox again about proper disposal of sharps in the home setting.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Coalition for Safe Community Needle Disposal advise about solutions for the best way to dispose of sharps, including the lancets for testing blood sugar. It is always best to put them into an orange biozhard container. These can be purchased at any pharmacy. They come in various sizes.
These orange biohazard containers help to protect people and animals from getting stuck with a sharp object that has another person’s blood on it. The containers can be disposed in several ways:
- Supervised Drop-off/Collection site: Some pharmacies, physician offices, fire stations, etc., will accept them for disposal. You will need to call around in your area to identify specific locations. Some will charge a small drop-off fee.
- Local Community Home Biohazard Day Drop-off. These are free drop-off days. Check with your local county offices to find out when your drop-off days will be. Some communities will send you a flyer indicating the local drop-off days if you register with them.
- Mail-back programs: sharps are placed in special biozhard containers that can be mailed back. There is a cost for this service to pay for postal fees.
For more information on how to dispose of your Diabetic blood sugar testing lancets and insulin needles, you can check the following links:
Remember – disposing of sharps in public or family-used trash cans expose other people and animals to risk. Not only can they cause injury, they carry germs and life threatening diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis.
– Let’s start today with safe sharps disposal in the home setting!
Have a great day!
“Navigating your Way through Our Healthcare System”
Donna M. Post, RN CLNC,LNCP-C, CHA