A medical syringe is a necessary attribute of every modern medical institution. But used syringes can be dangerous, as they contain not only the remnants of drugs but also the biomaterials of sick people. Therefore, the procedure for handling used syringes is strictly regulated by regulatory documents in the field of health care.
Rules for the safe disposal of used syringes
The basic guideline composed by My Canadian Pharmacy determines the procedure for dealing with wastes of medical organizations.
All the garbage that is generated and accumulated in clinics, hospitals, and medical centers is divided into several classes – from A to D, according to the level of possible danger to human life. So waste under the letter A is harmless, but category D includes especially dangerous, radioactive types of medical waste.
Syringes used for medical purposes are classified as hazard category B (dangerous) or C (very dangerous), as they are in direct contact with the biological fluids of sick people. Category B will include those used for patients with severe diagnoses.
If the recommended safety precautions are not observed, the employees of medical institutions may primarily suffer. With improper disposal, medical waste of classes B and C can cause the spread of serious diseases.
Disposable and reusable syringes
Modern medical syringes can be disposable and reusable. Accordingly, the reusable tool assumes that the used needle should be thrown away after a single use, and the body itself will be reused after sterilization. That is how a carpool reusable syringe for injection in dentistry is used.
Reusable tools have a glass or metal casing and are discarded either as a result of damage or at the expiration date.
The bulk of medical waste for disposal consists of 2 disposable instruments:
- syringes for injection and collection of solutions that must be disposed of after one application completely;
- needles used with reusable syringes.
Therefore, we will discuss them directly below.
How to prepare disposable syringes for disposal?
Before disposing of syringes and needles, they must undergo a decontamination procedure. This is mandatory, regardless of whether this waste will be further discarded, destroyed or sent for recycling. Usually, sterilization is carried out directly in the medical institution.
Chemical disinfection (disinfection)
To do this, the personnel uses containers with a disinfecting solution. Often the needles are sterilized in special containers designed for conveniently separating them from the syringe itself and for immediate subsequent disinfection:
- Needle remover – a plastic container equipped with a device for fixing and detaching 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, in operations, in laboratories and in ambulance services, helping to prevent possible injuries and infection of doctors.
In accordance with the regulatory requirements for disinfection, in the absence of such equipment, needle removal can be performed only after disinfection, which in this case is carried out for an unassembled instrument.
Disposable syringes have been developed and used for a long time. Their design allows you to safely “hide” the needle part in its case for further safe disposal. Containers filled with waste with a disinfecting solution are placed in equipped rooms and left to complete the chemical treatment process. After that, needles are removed from unassembled syringes, and the waste itself is put into special packages for garbage: yellow (waste of class B) or red (for C).
Sometimes working conditions do not allow physicians to carry out disinfection immediately on the spot – for example, during mass vaccination in schools, kindergartens, etc. Then the waste syringes are stored in special containers, where they are stored until they are disinfected.
Autoclaving and microwave radiation processing
Processing of used syringes is also performed using special equipment:
- Autoclave: the sterilization process is carried out with wet steam under pressure at a temperature of about 280 degrees Fahrenheit;
- Microwave installation disinfects syringes at temperatures of about 280 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temporary storage and transportation of waste syringes
When all parts of used syringes are disinfected and placed in airtight containers or specially labeled garbage bags, they can be stored for some time right in a medical institution, but in a room specially designated for this purpose.
Transportation of hazardous garbage is carried out by special transport with a closed body. According to the rules, this machine is used only for transporting medical waste. After each trip, it is also thoroughly washed and disinfected.
Disposal of used needles and syringes
Recommended methods for disposing of syringes include:
- burial of special solid waste;
- recycling of materials – metal (needle) and polymers (body).
The placement of medical waste in ordinary urban landfills is also allowed, although, of course, this method of disposal is the most criticized.
Thanks to modern equipment, needles after injection can be destroyed right in the hospital. There are special mobile units, destructors that allow, if necessary, to perform the needle burning process independently.
Such installations are compact and easy to use.
The burning of large volumes of syringes is carried out in incinerators. Such a facility can be operated both in the hospital and in a separate enterprise engaged in the destruction of this class of waste.
Before sending medical waste to a landfill, they are crushed to reduce the volume of garbage and to eliminate the possibility of reusing medical waste. Grinding is carried out in special crushers, grinders or mills for medical waste.
If there are licensed enterprises in the locality accepting decontaminated medical waste for recycling, medical institutions may enter into an agreement with them on the delivery of materials for recycling.
Safety instructions for disposing of syringes
Due to the danger of used medical instruments, all actions with them require special care.
Medical personnel involved in disposing of syringes and needles (which collects, disinfects, provides temporary storage or transportation) must:
- undergo compulsory vaccination against hepatitis B;
- get special training;
- have an emergency first aid kit on hand.
When working with used syringes, it is prohibited to:
- put them from one container to another;
- place the accumulators for waste near heating devices;
- perform any type of operation without gloves and clothing;
- ram waste by hand;
- replace the needle caps.
Incorrect disposal of used syringes is the concern of not only sanitary doctors but also environmentalists. After all, the period of decomposition of steel needles and plastic shells in a natural way can take from several tens to several hundred years, causing harm to nature. Therefore, the most appropriate solution is the recycling of syringes, which results in safe and high-quality raw materials suitable for further industrial use.