Why More Hospitals Are Choosing Reusable Sharps Containers
Reusable sharps containers are becoming more common, especially in hospitals. Single-use containers used to be the only option for sharps waste, but a new generation of computer controlled sanitizing and disinfecting equipment allows for the safe, sanitary, and economical reuse of sharps containers, while avoiding human contact. The reusable sharps container trend originated in the New York metropolitan area where over 90% of the hospitals have implemented reusable sharps containers.
Responsible companies worldwide are looking for ways to reduce the amount of waste they produce. Hospitals are always considering continuous improvement initiatives, constantly reviewing the volume of medical waste generated. Because disposable containers are plastic, single use containers pose a threat to the environment. Going “green” is an initiative hospitals try to take part in, when it makes sense economically. Luckily switching to reusable containers is less costly than disposable containers.
Reusable means that the containers will be emptied, washed (according to regulations), and used again. Unlike disposable sharps containers, they are not thrown out after one use. Hospitals use a very organized process for reusable sharps containers. Once the containers are full, they are removed by technicians/or hospital staff and are taken to a processing facility where the containers are emptied. According to FDA regulations, the sharps containers for medical waste must be emptied automatically, using automated equipment. (Reusable pharmaceutical containers do not have to follow the same guidelines). The sharps waste is treated as biomedical waste and the empty sharps container goes through the sanitizing process, using a commercial washer where it is cleaned to exceed infection control requirements. After the automated dumping and washing process, the sharps containers can then be placed back in a healthcare facility for use again. This cycle can continue for as long as the container is not damaged and still meets all regulations from the FDA.
Minimizing the impact to the environment is a huge benefit of these containers and the hospitals enjoy the benefit of not having to make additional sharps container purchases. By simply switching to reusable sharps containers, hospitals are able to significantly reduce their carbon footprint.
Additionally, reusable sharps containers are found to be safer as well. The Solutions, inc. SharpsAway reusable sharps containers are designed for safe use effectively blocking hand access from discarded sharps. The most important requirement for any supplies vital to regulated medical waste disposal is safety. SharpsAway has incorporated many intelligent safety features that significantly reduce the risk of sharps or needle injuries to all hospital staff and patients. Reusable sharps containers have large openings that allow for horizontal drop, yet still restricts hand access. These containers are puncture proof, leak proof and tamper proof. They lock and have have overfill protection as well. They are designed to fit on the walls in hospital rooms or in dollies. Well engineered reusable sharps containers like the SharpsAway reusable sharps system are proven to reduce accidental sharps injuries. Hospitals that use reusable sharps containers have had less accidental needle sticks than those that use disposable containers.
When a hospital switches from disposable sharps containers to reusable sharps containers, they immediately realize significant benefits. In addition to reducing their carbon footprint and reducing injuries, hospitals see a long term cost savings with reusable sharps containers. Finding the right medical waste hauler with access to reusable sharps containers is key for hospitals. Eventually reusable sharps containers will be in every hospital across the country.