Disposal of Sharps by Health Care Facilities
The information on this page is intended for use by consumers, including patients, family members, and home health caregivers to address disposal of used needles and other sharps used at home, at work, and when traveling. This page is NOT for health care facilities.
For information on sharps disposal at health care facilities or disposal of regulated medical waste by health care personnel outside of health care facilities, follow the Joint Commission requirements for the deployment of sharps containers and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard on bloodborne pathogens.
- DO immediately place used needles and other sharps in a sharps disposal container to reduce the risk of needle sticks, cuts or punctures from loose sharps.
- DO use an FDA-cleared sharps disposal container, if possible. If an FDA-cleared container is not available, some organizations and community guidelines recommend using a heavy-duty plastic household container as an alternative.
- DO make sure that if a household container is used, it has the basic features of a good disposal container.
- DO carry a portable sharps disposal container for travel.
- DO follow your community guidelines for getting rid of your sharps disposal container.
- DO call your local trash or public health department (listed in the county and city government section of your phone book) to find out about sharps disposal programs in your area.
- DO ask your health care provider, veterinarian, local hospital or pharmacist
- where and how to get an FDA-cleared sharps disposal container,
- if they can dispose of your used needles and other sharps, or
- if they know of sharps disposal programs near you.
- DO keep all sharps and sharps disposal containers out of reach of children and pets.
- DO seal sharps disposal containers when disposing of them, label them properly and check your community guidelines on how to properly dispose of them.
- DO ask your medical or prescription insurer whether they cover sharps disposal containers.
- DO ask the manufacturer of your drug products that are used with a needle or other sharps if they provide a sharps disposal container to patients at no charge.
- DO report a problem associated with sharps and disposal containers.
- DON’T throw loose needles and other sharps into the trash.
- DON’T flush needles and other sharps down the toilet.
- DON’T put needles and other sharps in your recycling bin -- they are not recyclable.
- DON’T try to remove, bend, break, or recap needles used by another person. This can lead to accidental needle sticks, which may cause serious infections.
- DON’T attempt to remove the needle without a needle clipper because the needle could fall, fly off, or get lost and injure someone.