When I first started working as a diabetes educator, I found there was one important topic that was rarely discussed. When a patient newly diagnosed with diabetes came into my office, many times they had already been provided with basic education on a variety of topics by their physician and endocrinologist. They often had a basic understanding of dietary changes they needed to make, they had started to learn how to test their blood sugar levels, but what had not been addressed was on what to do with their needles, lancets, and auto injectors after they had been used.
This post has created made in partnership with SafeNeedleDisposal.org. All opinions are my own.
Research shows that people who use needles and lancets to manage their medical conditions know it is their responsibility to safely dispose of their sharps, but lack clear, factual information on what to do. That’s why SafeNeedleDisposal.org was created. For anyone with chronic conditions who use sharps, needles, lancets or auto injectors outside of a medical facility for medical treatment, this organization now provides instant, accurate guidance on how to safely dispose of these medical items in your area. Simply enter your ZIP code and you will be provided with a list of approved drop off locations where you can dispose of your supplies safely. You can also click on your state to learn the rules and regulations for disposing of sharps in your particular area.
How can I safely dispose of my sharps?
The good news is you probably already have everything you need at home to dispose of sharps safely. First, you need a strong plastic container to place your used sharps in. This can be an empty laundry detergent or bleach bottle. When choosing your sharps container, make sure it is leak-resistant, remains upright during use, and has a tight-fitting, puncture-resistant lid. When you have filled your container ¾ of the way, follow the guidelines at SafeNeedleDisposal.org for proper disposal. Some cities allow sharps containers to be deposited in your home trash while others require they be taken to specific drop-off locations.
Why can’t I throw sharps directly in the garbage?
Throwing any used needle, lancet, auto injector, or other sharp directly into the trash (without first being placed in a strong, plastic container), recycling, or down the toilet can be dangerous. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, if sharps are not disposed of correctly, this can lead to injury. In order to decrease the risk of injury to yourself and all those who come in contact with your sharps, following safe disposal guidelines is critical. To understand the rules and regulations for sharps disposal where you live, visit SafeNeedleDisposal.org and click on your state or enter your ZIP code to learn about local disposal regulations and options. Remember, safety is the point.