Reusable Sharps Containers: Impact on Infection Risk

Authors:   Grimmond, T

Publication:   Grimmond T. Using reusable containers for hospital waste - is there an infection risk? South Afr J Epidemiol Infect 2013;28(4):197-201.



What is the study?

Resuable waste containers are used to transport sharp and non-sharp clinical waste in many countries.  Initially with their introduction there may be a perception of risk of pathogen or disease transmission.  This study examined the international literature and guidelines to determine the microbiological risk of using reusable waste containers and what, if any, process validation or monitoring may be indicated.


What did we learn?

In this study, Terry Grimmond has concluded the following regarding the use of reusable waste containers on infection risk:

  • Reusable waste containers pose a negligible to nil risk of pathogen transmission to patients and environments.
  • There are no published reports of disease transmission from RWC
  • The probability of reusable waste containers being associated with infection is an extremely low 1 in 400 million.
  • Reusable waste containers are assessed as having risk level 6, representing the lowest level of risk for infection transfer.
  • At risk level 6, reusable waste containers require cleaning for safe reuse, with no need for disinfection.

This paper assessed the international literature on reusable waste containers infection risk and found negligible to nil risk of pathogen or disease transfer. The literature confirms that disinfection and microiological monitoring and validation of reusable clinical waste containers is not indicated, and that washing with hot water and detergent, using visual criteria for cleanliness and due diligence on contractor selection, enable reusable containers to be safely used."



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