Last updated: October 2018
There seems to be a nationwide issue of safely disposing of Sharps after we’ve used them. Disposal sites can be hard to access and there are rules that vary from state to state. These confuse patients on what to properly do with their Sharps in order to safely dispose of them.
I've realized that it's a flawed system
I personally live in a state that I’ve never had an issue turning in a full tub of Sharps. In the past, I’ve brought them to drug stores. Police departments also have drug take-back days, and they always have something in their lobby for where to place needles whenever we want to dispose of them. But after talking to many friends who also self-inject, I realized what a flawed system it can be. Some patients don’t have access to a drop-off point or are unable to travel to the nearest destination to dispose of their sharps properly.
Sharps can be needles, syringes, lancets used to monitor blood sugars, infusion sets and connection sets, and needles that may be used for hemodialysis patients. They cannot be tossed in the garbage. This puts anyone who comes into contact with it at risk of getting stuck by a needle.
Many pharmaceutical companies will send out a sharps container with your injectables. But what if you’re not provided with one and you need to dispose of a needle? Many pharmacists suggest using an empty laundry soap container, sealing the lid and duct taping the lid so it doesn’t come unscrewed. There are other places online where you can purchase Sharps containers. But there should be no reason that you should have to purchase one. If your pharmaceutical company has not provided you with a Sharps/receptacle to place used injectors, needles and other sharps with, call your specialty pharmacy and request another sharps container.
Your specialty pharmacy may even have send-back programs. Ask about how you should handle your sharps when you are done.
A useful tool to locate sites
If you are unsure where to bring your full sharps containers, there are websites that offer places of drop off for disposal. If you visit SafeNeedleDisposal.org, you will instantly be prompted to type in your zip code and specified distance near where you live1. Plug your information in, and it immediately brings you results of where you are able to properly dispose of your sharps container. (Warning: there are many websites out there that want you to pay to get your container and pay to ship it back - please visit this site before you do this!).
Pretty awesome, huh? If you still run into issues in your area, call your local pharmacies and ask if they will accept sharps. Local hospitals and many police stations may be able to give you these answers as well!
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