A syringe is a tool utilized in every modern medical institution and often used in small clinics and home care. All medical supplies which come in contact with bodily fluids must be disposed of properly. Procedures for the safe and contained disposal of used sharps and syringes has been considered over the years providing health care workers, hospitals, clinics, and home care the necessary information to understand how to safely dispose of all used products.
Disposable and reusable syringes
Modern medical syringes can be disposable or reusable. A reusable instrument suggests that after a single use, the used needle should be discarded, and the case itself will be reused after sterilization. Such, for example, is a reusable glass and metal syringe for injection in dentistry.
Reusable tools have a glass or metal case and fall into the waste either as a result of damage or after the expiration date.
The bulk of medical waste for disposal are disposable tools:
- syringes for injection and collection of solutions that must be disposed of after one use completely;
Therefore, in the future, we will be focusing on syringes and responsible disposal.
How to prepare disposable syringes for disposal?
Before disposing of syringes and needles, they must undergo a disinfection procedure. This is mandatory, regardless of whether these wastes are subsequently discarded, disposed of, or sent for recycling. Usually, sterilization is carried out directly in the medical facility.
For a home user, the most sensible and safe disposal is by using a sharps container. A sharps container effectively keeps all used syringes safely stored until their disposal.
Chemical disinfection (disinfection)
To do this, use containers with a disinfecting solution. Often the needles are sterilized directly in special containers designed for their convenient separation from the syringe itself and immediately – subsequent disinfection:
- The needle puller is a plastic container equipped with a device for fixing and disconnecting the needle after injection.
- The needle cutter is a collection container with a device that allows you to quickly and easily cut off the needle from the body.
These devices are used in treatment rooms, during operations, in laboratories, and during ambulance work, helping to prevent possible injuries and infection of doctors.
In accordance with the regulatory requirements for disinfection, in the absence of such equipment, the removal of the needle can only be done after disinfection, which in this case is carried out for an unassembled tool.
Disposable syringes have been developed and used for a long time, the design of which allows you to safely “hide” the needle part in its own housing for further safe disposal.
Containers filled with waste with disinfectant are taken to the facilities equipped for this purpose and left to complete the chemical treatment process. After that, the needles are removed from the unassembled syringes, and the waste itself is transferred to special waste packages.
Sometimes working conditions do not allow doctors to carry out disinfection immediately on the spot – for example, with mass vaccination in schools, kindergartens, etc. Then the spent syringes are stored in special containers, where they are stored until disinfection.
Microwave Autoclaving and Processing
The treatment of used glass and metal syringe components is carried out using special equipment:
- autoclave: the sterilization process is carried out with wet steam under pressure at a temperature of about 120 degrees Celsius;
- The microwave installation disinfects syringes at temperatures of about 140 degrees Celsius.
Temporary storage and transportation of used syringes
Used syringes are immediately placed into sharps containers. These are typically plastic disposable containment which each hospital and clinic room have standard. This is not only a reminder to safely and immediately dispose of used syringes, but an easy way to keep hazardous materials safely out of reach. Each sharps container can then be disposed of properly and replaced with empty new containers as needed.
When all parts of used syringes are disinfected and placed in airtight containers or specially marked garbage bags, they can be stored for some time directly in the medical facility, but in a room specially designated for these purposes.
Dangerous waste is transported by special vehicles with a closed shell body. According to the rules, this machine is used only for transporting medical waste. After each flight, it is also thoroughly washed and disinfected.
Disposal of used needles and disposable syringes
Recommended disposal methods for syringes include:
- burial at special solid waste landfills ;
- recycling of materials – metal (needles) and polymers (cases).
It is also possible to place medical waste in ordinary urban landfills, although, of course, this method of disposal is most criticized.
Thanks to modern equipment, needles after injections can be destroyed right in the hospital. For this, a lot of mobile installations – destructors have been developed, allowing, if necessary, to perform the process of burning needles on their own.
Large volumes of syringes are burned in incinerators. Such an installation can be operated both in the hospitals themselves and in a separate enterprise engaged in the destruction of this class of waste.
Before sending medical waste to a landfill or landfill, they are crushed to reduce the amount of garbage and to exclude the possibility of reusing used medical material. Grinding is carried out in special crushers, grinders or mills for medical waste.
If there are licensed enterprises locally that accept disinfected medical waste for recycling, medical institutions may enter into agreements with them on the delivery of recycled materials for recycling.
Syringe Disposal Safety
In view of the danger of spreading disease, all steps from collection, disinfection, and destroyal require the utmost care and attention to safety.
The medical staff involved in the disposal of disposable syringes and needles (which collects, disinfects, provides temporary storage or transportation) should:
- Get a mandatory vaccination against hepatitis B (the corresponding entry is made in the medical book).
- Take special training.
- Have a first aid kit on hand.
When working with used syringes, certain acts are prohibited:
- Pouring from one container to another.
- Placing waste containers near heaters.
- Performing any kind of operation without gloves and workwear.
- Touching the waste with your hands.
- Attempting to recap used needles.
Where to discard needles?
Remember that the disposal of needles should never be done in household waste. This is because there are several collectors who take advantage of the recyclable materials disposed of by homes and businesses, and if a needle is in the middle of these common materials, the collector may be injured or contaminated.
Therefore, the only way to dispose of properly is to store all needles in a separate container and once the package is full, simply take it to a health facility that knows how to dispose of this type of material properly.
Wrongful disposal of used syringes is a concern not only for sanitary doctors but also for environmentalists. After all, the time it takes for a syringe to decompose naturally can be upwards of several hundred years. Knowing this time frame, and the possible harm that could occur, the most appropriate solution is the recycling of syringes, which produces safe and high-quality raw materials suitable for further use in industry.