Disposal of Sharps
As a Home Health Care Professional, you are responsible for the safe use and disposal of sharps equipment that you use in a patient home. However, patients or family members may put themselves and others at risk by not appropriately disposing of sharps themselves. It’s not uncommon to find contaminated sharps on any surface in the home or the wastebaskets. In fact, without access to standard sharps containers, people often use whatever is available for disposal – such as coffee cans and milk jugs. You can’t always assume that the standard labeled, leak-proof, puncture-resistant sharps containers will be available in the home.
Transportation of Sharps
Your agency may ask you to carry containers with you to the homes to help ensure proper disposal. Secure used sharps containers during transport to prevent spilling, follow standard precautions, infection prevention, and general hygiene practices consistently.
Avoiding Use of Sharps
What else can be done to curb infection from blood-borne pathogens? It might be possible to eliminate the use of needle devices whenever a safe or effective alternative is available. Your agency may provide needle devices with safety features that they’ve determined to be most effective. They will want to analyze all sharps related injuries to determine hazards and injury patterns, so report any issues or potential issues. Even if there’s not an actual harmful event, just the possibility of it is worth tracking. If a pattern develops, the company may consider changing work practices to decrease the specific activities associated with the potential for injuries.
What To Do In Case of Exposure
Even with proper precautions, home health care workers may be exposed to blood from episodes of sudden profuse bleeding and tasks involving wound care. If this happens during your visit, immediately wash the area with soap and water. If bodily fluids are splashed to the nose, the mouth, or sensitive skin, flush the area with clean water like saline or sterile irrigants.
After you take the important cleaning steps, immediately report the incident to your supervisor. Make sure to complete any paperwork involved and, if needed, seek medical attention per your employer’s protocol.
Home healthcare is an extremely rewarding industry for you and those you care for if you remember to work safely. Consistently follow any guidelines set out by your employer to help ensure patients receive the care they deserve and you continue to work in a safe environment, but also know that on-demand advice is available. OmniSure can help you navigate tough situations and answer questions in real-time.