Delay or reluctance to dispose of a used needle is never a good thing from an employee health perspective. Thus, the concern when a 2015 study1 suggested a link between reusable sharps containers (RSCs) and the incidence of Clostridium difficile infections (CDIs) in patients.

A new study shows no such association, concluding that if processed and used properly, reusable sharps containers pose no risk of C. diff transmission.2

Comparing RSCs and disposable sharps containers (DSCs), the 2015 study found a decreased incidence of CDIs in patients in facilities that use DSCs. The authors of the new study revisited that premise, sampling 197 RSCs for C. diff at processing facilities. In addition, 50 RSCs and 50 DSCs were sampled in CDI patient rooms in seven hospitals.

“Results were coupled with epidemiologic studies, clinical requirements, and chain-of-infection principles, and tests of evidence of disease transmission were applied,” they noted.

C. diff spores were found on nine of 197 (4.6%) RSCs prior to processing, which completely removed the spores. Detection of C. diff on room sharps boxes was minimal and not considered a transmission risk.

“With C. difficile bioburden being sub-infective on both DSCs and RSCs, sharps containers being no-touch, and glove removal required after sharps disposal, we found two links in the chain of infection to be broken and five of seven tests of evidence to be unmet,” the authors noted. “We conclude that sharps containers pose no risk of C. difficile                                                                       transmission.”


1. Pogorzelska-Maziarz, M. Relationship between sharps disposal containers and Clostridium difficile infections in acute care hospitals. Am J Infect Control. 2015; 43: 1081–1085.

2. Grimmond T, Neelakanta A, Miller B, et al. A microbiological study to investigate the carriage and transmission-potential of Clostridium difficile spores on single-use and reusable sharps containers. DOI: