Last updated on April 2, 2021

The number of Americans self-injecting drugs outside healthcare settings increases each year. A 2015 study by Zion Research estimated that the global injectable drug market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11.8% between 2016-2021. Many patients need to inject medications when away from home but lack access to safe disposal options.

Sharps Compliance Needle Collection and Disposal Systems help local governments and private businesses protect the public and employees from needlestick injuries.

Improper Disposal Increases Danger of Needlestick Injuries

A 2011 report from the Coalition for Community Needle Disposal found that the number of needles disposed of outside healthcare settings tripled between 2000 and 2010. As of 2011, 13.5 million Americans were discarding 7.8 billion used needles. Even now, too many of these used needles go into household trash or public trash bins, which endangers the public and workers who handle the waste.

Recent avoidable injuries include:

  • February 2018: A Seattle library custodian was stuck by a discarded needle as he emptied trash containers.
  • July 2018: Cal-OSHA fined the Department of General Services for failing to provide proper training after several groundskeepers received needlestick injuries.
  • August 2018: A customer at a New Mexico Walmart was stuck by a discarded needle in the store’s bathroom.
  • October 2018: A Seattle police officer stepped on a discarded syringe in a public park.
  • November 2018: A student in Roxbury, MA was pricked by a needle on the playground during recess.

The Need for Safe Needle Collection & Disposal Systems

As needlestick injuries to the general public, as well as custodial and solid waste workers, increase, many governments and private businesses are looking for solutions to protect employees and the public.

For example, Philadelphia placed needle drop boxes in some public parks and transit stations as part of the Mayor’s opioid “disaster declaration.”  Similarly, Starbucks began exploring options for safe needle disposal after employees were injured by sharps discarded in restroom trash bins.

Starbucks said in its statement it is considering installing sharps containers, FDA-cleared boxes that according to the agency are made from “rigid plastic” and “help reduce the risk of injury and infections from sharps.”

Accidental needlesticks can expose people to dangerous bloodborne pathogens, including HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. Because of the danger, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers guidelines for anyone who experiences a needlestick or sharps injury:

  • Wash needlesticks and cuts with soap and water
  • Flush splashes to the nose, mouth, or skin with water
  • Irrigate eyes with clean water, saline, or sterile irrigants
  • Report the incident to your supervisor
  • Immediately seek medical treatment

Safe disposal options can also help avoid the medical and liability costs that result from needlestick injuries.

Medical & Liability Costs from Needlestick Injuries

Needlestick injuries aren’t just dangerous – they’re also expensive! A 2016 study of injuries to workers in materials recycling facilities found that workplace injuries could total as much as $2.25 million in direct medical care costs. Another study found that individual costs from an accidental needlestick range from several hundred to over a thousand dollars.

Liability costs can be a lot higher. For example, Target Corporation is currently appealing a $4.6 million jury award to a customer who was stuck by a discarded needle in the store’s parking lot.

Court records obtained by the Anderson Independent-Mail said Carla Garrison’s lawyer asked Target for $12,000 and the retail chain offered her $750. Garrison says her 8-year-old daughter found the needle in the parking lot of a Target in Anderson in May 2014, and Garrison was pricked when she knocked it out of the child’s hand.

In April 2018, an Albuquerque, NM, woman sued her son’s school after he was poked by a discarded needle on the playground and the school failed to notify her.

Sharps Compliance offers safe, affordable sharps disposal systems for public places. Our Sharps Secure system feature lockable wall containers designed for use with Sharps Recovery System sharps containers. Once the sharps container is full, simply package it in the prepaid mailing box for USPS shipping. They’re easy to use and help protect your employees and customers from needlestick injuries.

Wanda Voigt holds a BA in Nursing from Texas Woman’s University and a BBA in Business Management from Texas A&M University. In Fall 2021, Wanda will begin her Master Jurisprudence in Health Law and Policy at Texas A&M University. Wanda has over 20 years of clinical practice in both hospital and private practice practicing in various specialties.

As the Director of Regulatory Compliance, Wanda assists Sharps’ customers in evaluating current federal and state-specific medical and pharmaceutical waste regulations, implementing compliant regulated medical and pharmaceutical waste management programs and processes, and developing training programs for both internal and external customers.

published in Medical WasteTagged