What is the Candy Test?
If a piece of candy dropped into a sharps container - is there any way that it could be retrieved?
Some of you will be reading this thinking surely you are not serious... this scenario would never happen. Unfortunately it does. Many disposable sharps containers found in physicians offices or dental clinics are small, brightly coloured containers positioned "just at the right height" for a curious child to investigate. In our 30+ years of clinical waste experience partnering with healthcare facilities, we have encountered countless stories of small children being stuck with a needle when their hands dive into an open-lidded sharps container to explore its contents, or try 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 unravelling, 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.”
This 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 can be avoided.
We've seen advancements in safety engineered devices, smart retractable syringes, and the availability of blunt needles to mitigate the risk of needlestick injuries, However, despite this, we are not seeing a significant reduction in needlestick injuries. NIOSH reports that over 100,000 needlestick injuries occur in the United Kingdom every year, and the most recent Expo Stop Study conducted in 2015 estimates that reported needlestick injuries for the US alone sit at 320,000. Whether reported or unreported - it's very clear that needlestick injury prevention requires much more than smarter sharps - it also requires significantly smarter sharps containers with built-in safety mechanisms for risk-free sharps disposal.
So how well does the Sharpsmart compete against other sharps containers?