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Tips for Disposing of Sharps

It’s important to properly dispose of sharps from your diabetes supplies to protect others from potential harm, should they somehow pierce themselves, according to Andrea Penney, BSN, RN, C.D.E., at Joslin Diabetes Center.  Injury could cause a local infection.  If the person who originally used the sharps had a positive blood born pathogen, such as hepatitis or HIV, the injured could get the same disease.

General Tips for Disposing Sharps with Diabetes

  • DO NOT recap syringes as you might cut yourself.
  • Separate the plunger from the barrel of the syringe to be sure it cannot be re-used somehow.
  • Keep both used and unused syringes out of the reach of children.
  • Do not keep used and unused syringes in a highly visible place where a visitor might take them, like the bathroom.
  • When you travel with diabetes, carry a “travel letter” from your physician stating you have diabetes and giving you permission to carry your syringes and sharps.  Take home used syringes unless the place where you’re staying offers a sharps disposal system.

At-Home Methods for Disposing Sharps with Diabetes

Use a sturdy, non-see-through plastic container, such as a detergent bottle, to dispose of your sharps.  When its ¾ full, tape it shut and throw it away in the regular trash; do not recycle.  You could also add bleach and water (one part bleach, nine parts water solution).  Do not use coffee cans, because they can split open when trash is compacted.

Each state has its own set of regulations on how to dispose of needles and syringes.  The best thing for you to do is check with the local board of health in the city you reside in, Penney says.

Click here to see Massachusetts’ regulations on proper use and disposal of needles and syringes and a list of disposal sites.

Page last updated: April 18, 2014