A high degree of precaution must always be taken with any sharp items used in the laboratory, including needles, glass slides and cover slips, Pasteur pipettes, capillary tubes, and scalpels or other blades. Two of the most common causes of needle sticks are re-capping needles and improper disposal of needles. All needle sticks, and other sharps injuries, carry the risk of secondary infections as well as exposure to the needle's content and/or contamination on the outside of the needle or other sharp instrument.
- Needles and syringes or other sharp instruments should be restricted for use only when there is no alternative, such as parenteral injection, phlebotomy, or aspiration of fluids from diaphragm bottles. Plastic ware should be substituted for glassware whenever possible.
- Sharps usage must be reviewed annually. Can a procedure be modified so that a sharp is not needed? Is there a safety engineered sharp available? Syringes which re-sheathe the needle, needleless systems, and other safety devices should be used when possible. Always request safety engineered sharps from vendors.
- See the Minnesota Department of Health's slide presentation for further information on safety engineered sharps.
- The University of Virginia has a list of vendors for safety-engineered sharp devices available at http://www.healthsystem.virginia.edu/internet/epinet/safetydevice.cfm
- Manufacturers such as BD offer
- safety cannulas http://www.bd.com/ca/safety/products/infusion/iv_access/#Twinpak
- safety needle and syringe products http://www.bd.com/ca/safety/products/injection/syringes_needles/
- safety scalpels http://www.bd.com/ca/french/pdfs/safety/products/surgical/scalpel_
- Needle/syringe usage may also present a risk of exposure to infectious agents or other hazardous materials via sprays and aerosols particularly from non needle-locking syringes. Use needle-locking syringes for all needle/syringe applications. This includes injections, filtration, transfer of liquids, and loading columns. Use of needle-locking syringes will also prevent the loss of valuable samples.
- Procedure-specific handling and disposal of sharps must be included in your lab's written Lab Safety Manual or Standard Operating Procedures.
- Do not purchase needle/syringe units, this will prevent disposal of unused wrong sized needles.
- Do not pick up broken glass with hands, use mechanical means such as a brush and dustpan, tongs, or forceps.
- Needles must not be bent, sheared, broken, recapped, removed from disposable syringes, or otherwise manipulated before disposal.
- If there is no alternative to re-using a needle/syringe for a specific procedure, such as the need for giving more than one injection with an anesthetic or multiple injections of a limited quantity material:
- Avoid re-capping the needle by placing the needle/syringe in a tray or other protective container for transportation or storage between injections.
- If there is no alternative to re-capping the needle, use one of the following:
- First choice should be a re-sheathing needle. These are available in both automatic re-sheathing styles from maunfacturers such as Sterimatic, http://www.sterimatic.com or a re-usable, retractable guard style from manufacturers such as Gettig, http://www.gettig.com/images/IFU.pdf. The Gettig device guard can be pushed back over the needle after filling the syringe for transport or storage and pulled down to allow unobstructed needle usage for multiple injections
- Second chioce is to use a simple and inexpensive mechanical device to safely hold caps while re-capping.
The device from Medi-Dose sits on a bench top and holds the
cap while the syringe/needle is inserted. Twist the
needle/syringe to remove from the device. This device is
- Finally, if the above re-sheathing or mechanical re-capping devices do not work for an application, the one-handed scoop method may be used. Documentation must demonstrate that the above-mentioned techniques cannot be implented.
Place the cap on the counter top and "scoop" it up with the needle, keeping your free hand out of the way.
Note: The need to re-use and/or re-cap needles, along with the method employed, must be documented in your laboratory safety manual or standard operating procedures.
Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) does not permit re-capping of needles used for Biosafety Level 2 agents for any reason.
See the Infectious Waste Disposal Chart at http://www.dehs.umn.edu/bio_wastedisptble.htm for a list of items to be disposed of as sharps and for additional sharps and broken glass disposal information.
Spray and Aerosol Prevention
Sprays or aerosols may be generated if a needle disengages from a syringe. CDC/NIH guidelines in Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories states, "Only needle-locking syringes or disposable syringe-needle units (i.e., needle is integral to the syringe) are used for injection or aspiration of infectious material."
Use needle-locking syringes for all needle/syringe applications to prevent exposure to sprays and aerosols. This includes injections, filtration, transfer of liquids, and loading columns. Use of needle-locking syringes will also prevent the loss of valuable samples. One cc syringes are now available with needle locks or permanently attached needles.