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Background Needles and syringes, also referred to as sharps, have complex and layered representations and connotations in the public eye. As necessary tools of medicine, they are used daily by doctors and nurses. But outside of healthcare facilities, the image of sharps becomes more complex and paradoxical.
The public image of sharps is not only of medicine and health but also of illness, addiction, and drug use. For people using sharps in the home to manage their health there is a lack of visibility and general understanding from those outside. This makes practices like self-injecting treatments a mainly private and perceptively taboo act.
With a growing number of sharps being used in the home, there is growing concern about the safety of their use and disposal. It is ultimately the responsibility of the user to learn and use safe practices, but with a lack of surveillance it is difficult to know if people take safe actions.
The Problem Due to a lack of visibility, standardization, regulation, education, and accessibility, people in the United States who utilize sharps to manage their health in the home lack the necessary resources and knowledge to safely dispose of their used and potentially hazardous devices.
"Sharps disposal is a broader public health issue that is under-recognized by clinicians as well as patients."
Costello, J., & Parikh, A. (2013). The sticking point.
Mapping the Problem
Needles Used Annually
By Prescription Users In The U.S.
(Outside of Healthcare Facilities)
The Journey of a Sharp