Dealing with Needle Sticks and Needles Left in Public Spaces

via Daily Prompt: Commit

To commit to a life of delight is synonymous to commit to a life to serve. This is why I’m posting this today for anyone who might stumble upon my blog.

This morning, I received a video from my family showing two young men who have supposedly encountered needles set up inside the nozzles at a gas station. I’ll post the video at the end of this blog. Apparently, there has been a lot of these reports on Instagram and people have also been finding these needles on clothing racks at stores. Many believe that theses needles might contain HIV. I’m also thinking of Hepatitis C that is more easily transmitted via needle sticks compared to HIV.

I’m not sure if this video or the other reports are true. Maybe it’s all a big hoax. But even if it is a hoax, I think that it’s a great opportunity to educate ourselves on what to do if we were ever to encounter an exposed needle outside of a hospital setting and what to do if we actually get a needle stick.

The gentlemen in the video that I saw, picked up these needles with their bare hands and tossed them into the trashcan. Now they were careful not to get stuck by the needles but that’s definitely a high risk behavior. While they seemed to have gotten away with these maneuvers, they are putting the janitors at risk of getting stuck by tossing the needles in the trashcan.

The proper way to handle needles for health professionals is as follows:

  1. Wear gloves to handle the needle
  2. Do not recap the needle
  3. Place the needle in a red sharp container such as the one shown in the picture below.

Medline Sharps Container Biohazard Disposal Needle, 32 Ounce

The above steps protect the needle handler as well as other people from hazardous needle sticks. Unfortunately, the general population don’t have gloves and plastic sharp containers at their disposal.  I decided to do some research via internet. I also called the CDC. Here’s what I found out.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU FIND A NEEDLE IN PUBLIC

  • The best practice is to not touch the needle at all and call the authorities (911). They will follow up with the proper agency to come collect the needle (s).
  • If you decide to pick up the needles yourself, you will need the following: gloves, disposable tongues and a puncture proof capped container. Put the gloves on. Use disposable tongues to pick up the needles. Place the needles in the container. Close the container. Bring the container to the closest hospital for proper disposal (1).

WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE BEEN STUCK BY A NEEDLE

  1. Immediately wash the area with soap and water.
  2. Go to the nearest hospital for proper care.  If the needle contained a virus, you can get treated to prevent an infection.

TREATMENT FOR HIV EXPOSURE

Post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is the treatment given to individuals who have been exposed to a disease. For HIV PEP information such as where to go, how to get treatment and how to get assistance to pay for the treatment please visit https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/pep.html

HEPATITIS C VIRUS

HIV is not the only dangerous virus that can be transmitted via needle sticks. In fact, hepatitis C is easier to transmit via needle sticks compared to HIV. According to the CDC, “chronic Hepatitis C is a serious disease that can result in long term health problems and even death.” For more information on Hepatitis C please visit https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hcv/cfaq.htm

BLOOD-BORNE INFECTIOUS DISEASES

HIV and Hepatitis C are blood-borne infectious diseases. Hepatitis B is part of this group as well. You can learn more bout blood-borne infectious diseases by visiting https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/bbp/default.html

KNOW YOUR STATE REGULATIONS ON NEEDLE DISPOSALS

Believe it or not, needle disposals are regulated at the state level not the federal level. To find out the rules set by your state for proper needle disposal please visit https://www.epa.gov/home/health-and-environmental-agencies-us-states-and-territories

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? 

There is nothing more important than health. It is in our best interest to commit to do everything we can to protect ourselves and others from diseases such as those that can be contracted via needle sticks like this nurse who got infected. She tells her story in a 9 minute video that can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/stopsticks/video.html

And now the video that prompted this post:

 

 

 

References

  1. http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2016/06/23/what-do-if-you-find-drug-syringe-public/86290766/

 

 

 

 

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