November 3, 2020
Written by Laura Wakelam
28 Oct 2020
A key aspect of sharps container safety is being designed so that hands, especially the small ones of children, could not reach into the sharps container and retrieve any of the contents.
When clinicians discuss sharps containers and how safe they are, you may hear someone ask, "Does it pass the candy test?" If you haven't heard that that question before, no it’s not how sweet the container is or how much candy it could hold and how is that candy equitable to sharps volume. The candy test is simply to devise: if a child dropped a piece of candy into a sharps container, could they reach in with their small hands to retrieve it?
Candy Test your sharps container
Born out of five years of research and development with the input of experienced clinicians, the Sharpsmart sharps container was designed to be impenetrable. A wide aperture for safe disposal, a safety tray that is not able to be manipulated by even the smallest of hands, a secure cavity that 100% restricts hand-access to the disposed of sharps.
Image A shows the clinically engineered Sharpsmart sharps container. A secure tray conceals the full aperture of the container restricting hand access above and below the tray. When full, the safety tray self-locks into a fixed position, eliminating risks of overfilling. The Sharpsmart reusable sharps container is made of ABS plastic and is impenetrable by contained sharps.
Image B shows a standard sharps container that can be found in many small health practices across the United Kingdom. The sharps container is light in construction and has an open access top allowing sharps and needles to be vertically dropped into the container. Containers are often at risk of being overfilled, and there is no safety mechanism preventing hand access.
The Sharpsmart is designed with overfill protection
The Sharpsmart is the only sharps container system in the world with a tray that self-locks when contents reach the fill level. It takes the human choice out of the equation; it protects healthcare workers that would, by nature, put patient needs ahead of their own safety, and it ensures that costs are managed at a facility level with sharps container capacity being fully realized without risk to users.
These sharps injuries can be prevented
Keep in mind that in this scenario, a dropped piece of candy is now in a hazardous heap of clinical waste and sharps – so it’s really important small hands can’t reach into the container whatsoever. In our 30+ years of living in healthcare, stories are replete of small children being stuck with a needle when their hands dive into an open-lidded sharps container to explore what lies within, or in an attempt to retrieve an item they have curiously dropped inside.
A 3-year old dropped his parents' car keys into the round hole of a sharps container. Unaware of the scenario that was unraveling, his mother was only made aware of what had taken place when her young son cried out in pain. With his hands tightly fisted into the top opening of the container trying to retrieve the keys, the boy had been punctured with seven different needles.”
The above is a true story, and it is one of many that is distinctly avoidable. In this scenario, it is what happens next that is most harrowing… trying to determine the medical history of the contaminated needles, exposing a child to strong preventative medications, waiting… and seeing… for months whether a life-threatening illness has been contracted through the exposure. It is emotionally traumatic. It is avoidable.