Sharps are medical devices like needles, scalpels, and other tools that cut or go into the skin. Learning how to safely handle sharps is important to prevent accidental needle sticks and cuts.
Before you use a sharp object, such as a needle or scalpel, make sure you have all the items you need close by. This includes items like alcohol swabs, gauze, and bandages.
Also know where the sharps disposal container is. Check to make sure there is enough room in the container for your object to fit. It should not be more than 2/3 full.
Some needles have a protective device, such as a needle shield, sheath, or blunting, that you activate after you remove the needle from the patient. This allows you to safely handle the needle without the risk of exposing yourself to blood or body fluids. If you are using this kind of needle, make sure you know how it works before you use it.
Follow these guidelines when you work with sharps:
Make sure the disposal container is made for disposing of sharp objects. Replace containers when they are 2/3 full.
Other important tips include:
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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