The Problem

Managing and disposing of sharps — like needles, syringes, lancets, and catheters — presents a safety problem. While programs and options exist to inform patients on how to safely manage sharps, they can often be difficult to understand.

The Scope of the Issue
In one year, approximately 9 million patients who use syringes as part of their medication regimen administer at least 3 billion injections outside traditional health care facilities. Many of these patients are unaware of the safe disposal methods available to them and simply throw loose needles in the trash or flush them down the toilet. Such actions pose a risk of injury or potential infection to anyone who encounters the needles.

fingerstickDespite the growing problems associated with improper disposal of household-generated needles, there are no consistent regulations or guidelines for safe disposal. Laws and regulations governing medical waste (including needles and other sharps) were initially designed for health care facilities and medical waste operations. These laws and regulations are separate from household waste.

Because regulations and guidelines for needle disposal in local communities are often inconsistent and poorly publicized, serves as an information resource for community-sponsored sharps disposal programs and other safe disposal options.