The evolution of sharps management over the past few decades, recently detailed in Greenhealth Magazine, tells a unique story about hospital and health care system innovation, particularly as it relates to disease prevention.
In the story, Ann Marie Pettis, director of infection prevention at the University of Rochester Medical Center, shares how sharps containers were handled and disposed of 30 years ago. While it may not seem like that long ago, using empty orange juice cartons with the tops removed and open mayonnaise jars were in fact considered safe practices in a clinical setting.
We all know these approaches would never pass a compliance review or a regulatory agency’s visit today. And we also know more about disease transmission and best safety practices now than we did then.
Today hospital and healthcare networks have their choice of containers—including reusable containers preferred by Pettis’ team – that meet OSHA standard 1910.1030(d)(iii)(A) and are closeable, puncture resistant, leak proof and affixed with warning labels.
Reusable sharps containers are considered by many healthcare leaders to be the best choice in advancing objectives surrounding disease prevention, safety, compliance and sustainability. Oftena third-party vendor, in this case Stericycle, rather than hospital staff handle and remove the containers before they become full. This practically eliminates the risk of staff transmitting disease, or dangerous bacteria such as Clostridium difficile or C.diff.
The reusable containers also cut down on carbon dioxide emissions, plastic use and landfill waste, reducing a hospital’s carbon footprint. And while still a top priority for hospital management, needlestick injuries have dramatically reduced over the last several decades thanks to advanced sharps container design and services.
Sharps management and its evolution is just one example of innovation across health care networks. As an organization, Stericycle is excited to partner with the industry as it continues to better manage facilities, waste streams, staff best practices and environmental resources.