How To Dispose of Needles, Lancets and Blood Strips Properly
Some people with diabetes use pen needles, syringes, lancets and blood strips to monitor their blood sugar levels and inject insulin or other injectable medications. Proper disposal is important to prevent needle sticks and reduce the risk of transmitting infectious diseases.
- Never share or reuse lancets, pen needles or syringes. Cleaning needles or lancets with alcohol will remove the protective coating that helps them slide into your skin and allows them to be so thin. After the first stick this coating is removed and they will become dull. A dull stick is more painful and offers less blood. You may then waste expensive strips.
- Dispose of insulin needles when they are bent, dull or unsanitary. Do not bother to clip the needle. It could fly off, hurt you, someone or get lost. The entire syringe should be placed in an sealed container [no need to recap] that will not allow the needle to break through.
- Lancets used to collect small blood samples also need to be disposed of in a sanitary manner. Suitable containers for disposing of needles and lancets include a heavy plastic bottle with a screw cap or a metal or plastic box that closes securely. Never use glass or clear plastic. Puncture-proof containers should be sealed with heavy duty tape and labeled, "USED SHARPS. DO NOT RECYCLE" and put in the regular trash. There are also store bought containers that can be purchased and returned to the original company with the dirty needles. Look on diabetic product web sites for these specific containers.
- Each state and region may have its own rules for disposing of syringes, pen needles, lancets and blood strips. Check with your refuse company or the local waste authority to find out their medical waste regulations. For additional information about safe needle disposal in your neighborhood, visit the CDC. Never dispose of medical waste directly in the trash or streets. Even when you travel, use proper containers to collect the waste.
- Typically people with diabetes dispose of their blood strips in the same waste container as their sharps. Some keep them in a sealed bag and then place them in the sharps container. Brands such as Contour tests strips have instructions inside the package about proper disposal.
- Your community may have dedicated collection sites for filled sharp containers. Locations that might collect them include police stations, fire departments, doctors' offices, health clinics, health departments, pharmacies and hospitals. You may also be able to take filled sharps containers to a local municipal household hazardous waste collection site.
- Certain communities have trained handlers that pick up filled sharps containers. Find out if you need to call for pickup or if there are designed pickup times. In areas without medical waste handling, you may need to mail your sharps container to special collection sites. Follow postal service rules for handling medical waste. In some neighborhoods, there are programs where you can turn in old needles for new ones.
Used diabetes supplies such as pen needles, syringes, lancets and blood strips are medical waste. Keep everyone safe by following state or county regulations regarding the proper disposal of medical waste.