Sharps Tips for Home Caregivers

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download.jpgMore than 9 million Americans administer injectable drugs in their home or work environment, including many home caregivers who are tending to loved ones with diabetes or other conditions that require injections. It’s crucial that home caregivers or others administering the injections know how to handle the “sharps” safely, and how to dispose of them properly. Otherwise, these sharps present a risk to home caregivers, patients, pets, and random individuals.

The following tips can help home caregivers and others who handle sharps at home or work.

Keep them sealed. Don’t unwrap the sharps from their packaging until it is time to use them. Not only does this keep the sharps sterile longer, it also lessens the chance of any accidents.

Watch where they're pointed. When handling sharps, refrain from pointing them at yourself or at other people (until it is time to actually give the injection, of course).  When handling them, be sure that the points are kept away from your own fingers.

Make sure others know when sharps are near. It’s best to have as few people as possible around when sharps are out — especially children. If “extra” people do need to be in the vicinity, make sure they know that sharps are out. Let anyone in the vicinity (including the patient) know if you move one. (“Okay, I’m putting the needle down here on the coffee table for a moment while I pick up the swab.”)

Always use a sharps disposal container. Leaving sharps out or just putting them into the garbage can is a recipe for disaster. Find out what the process is for sharps disposal in your community. (If you need help locating a sharps disposal center, go to and look up a disposal center near you.)

Cleanse if stuck. Anyone who sticks themselves with a used sharp should thoroughly wash and disinfect the area and then contact a doctor to see if further steps are required.

Home caregivers may feel awkward handling sharps at first; however, with care and practice, they can become much more comfortable with the process.

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