When you work in public health, you know it’s scary to get stuck by a needle in a trashcan, bathroom or another unexpected place. While needles and syringes are used for the medical treatment of multiple conditions such as arthritis, psoriasis, diabetes, and cancer, there is always the fear that a discarded needle also carries blood infected with harmful virus.
The viruses we worry about with needle injuries are hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV. The actual risk of infection from such an injury is very low, but there are immediate steps to take if you get a needle stick injury:
- Wash the site with soap and water
- Report the incident to your supervisor
- Seek immediate medical attention to determine risk and follow up
Persons using sharps for personal medical care can also look online to find a needle disposal location close to their home. If an FDA-cleared container is not available, use a heavy-duty plastic household container, such as a laundry detergent bottle. Please do your part to protect yourself and others from needle stick injuries.