Sharps Disposal in the ED

ABSTRACT & COMMENTARY

Source: Zimmers T. Sharps disposal in the ED: Simple techniques and equipment. Am J Emerg Med 1999;17:53-54.

Although we are all aware of the need to dispose of the sharp instruments and needles that we use in our practice, that wall-mounted or freestanding sharp box never seems to be within reach. We place the sharps on the procedure tray and more often than not we expect others to dispose of them. This report demonstrates some simple techniques and equipment that we can use for sharps disposal while lessening the hazard from "loose sharps." Zimmers and associates suggest we 1) use equipment that is readily available in the ED and that is often included in the procedure trays; 2) limit the sharp securing to one hand so as not to need to recap a needle; and 3) secure the sharps in containers or bottles readily seen by those doing the sharps disposal.

The technique is to place the needles, scalpel blades, and suture needles into open containers such as the plastic cups that come in the disposable lacerations kits, in plastic medication dispensing cups, or into the anesthetic bottle that was used (either uncapped or capped with the rubber seal). The sharps are, thus, secured and easily identified by those doing the sharps and materials cleanup.

Comment by Leonard Friedland, MD

What a great example of "keep it simple." The proposed methods are simple, yet elegant. At no additional cost or time commitment, the hazard from loose sharps can be lessened. I plan to adopt these techniques when I begin my shift in two hours, and I have already copied the article and distributed it to my colleagues.