In a hospital setting the word ‘sharps’ is quite literally used to discuss any tool or instrument which has a sharp edge. Mainly we are talking about needles, scalpels, saws and razor blades. These products are used each and every day in a hospital and it is absolutely critical that sharps disposal is taken very seriously.
As you can probably imagine, there are very tight laws which hospitals must abide by with regards to the disposal of all of its waste. Hospitals do generate a wide variety of waste and each has its own set of rules around how it must be handled and then disposed of. Any failure to follow these rules is a cause for concern by the authorities, and when it comes to waste of sharps, here is exactly why it is so important.
The most clear and obvious danger with this kind of waste is of course that they incur someone and cut or puncture them when they are disposing of the waste. In hospitals up and down the country a sharp is first placed into a yellow bin, which is solely for those waste products. When these bins get emptied they are then deposited into a larger bin, which is usually made of metal. Naturally it isn’t an option to place these products in a bag of any kind, because they will easily slice a hole in the bag.
Risk of Infection
The reason why we predominantly use sharp objects such as scalpels and needles in the hospital is to enter the human body, which is where they will come into contact with blood, bodily fluids and human tissue. This could quite easily mean that the sharp carries with it infected microorganisms which could then easily go on to infect someone else who comes into contact with the sharp. It is for the reason why we use impenetrable materials to store the waste and why anyone who is handling the waste has tight restrictions which they must follow.
How Sharp Waste is Disposed of
It is important to know that there are no sharp tools which are reused in the hospital environment. Whilst it is possible to completely clean these products, the cost involved and the potential risks are just too great. What we usually see with this particular kind of waste is that they head off to a waste disposal center, where they are first taken through a process called autoclaving. This process see hot chemical steam applied to the waste, in order to kill off every possible trace of microorganisms. Once this step has been carried out, the waste is considered as being safe enough to be sent to the incinerator. The smoke which comes form burning these sharps is sent through multiple filters and the waste product, or ash, which is generated from burning the waste is then sent to landfill, by which point it carries no more danger with it than an empty packet of chips.
This is why the correct disposal of sharps is so important.