A hypodermic needle is one of the smallest pieces of medical equipment in most hospitals, pharmacies and clinics. There are countless idioms and sayings that reference the needle as the epitome of diminutive, and yet these tiny instruments can have major economic impacts on the medical industry.
In doctors’ offices, hospitals and pharmacies, the sharps disposal process plays a crucial role in both medical personnel and patient safety. Specific receptacles that are closeable, puncture resistant and leak proof must be provided, appropriately labeled and color-coded by employees. There are very specific hospital and government regulations regarding the size and accessibility of these containers to ensure that needles, syringes and other hazardous objects are disposed of quickly and safely.1
These containers must then be picked up by specially trained waste management technicians, and disposed of in a hygienic manner. Disposal practices and guidelines vary by state in an effort to eliminate potential injuries and contamination.
However, these preventative measures can be extremely costly, and are often ineffective.
The average 250-bed hospital spends between $80,000-$100,000 per year on sharps containers alone. 2 On top of that, sharps disposal costs range from $.25-$.35 per pound.2
If hospitals could purchase half as many sharps containers and reduce the total amount of sharps disposals by using needle-free technology, like the PharmaJet Needle-Free Injection System, these actions alone could save the average 250-bed hospital $150,000 annually.2 Additionally, national pharmacy chains and public health clinics in major American cities could save as much as 25 percent and 23 percent respectively each year.
Yet despite the amount of money spent on sharps containers and disposal, injuries and contaminations still occur. Each year in the United States, there are approximately 800,000 needlestick injuries, which can cost the medical industry up to $1.2 billion.3,4 For each of these instances, an individual may incur direct costs of between $500-$3,000.5
Needlestick injuries can also be responsible for transmitting many blood-borne pathogens for which treatment is very costly, including Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV. If such a disease is contracted, the resulting costs can reach up to $1 million per person.6 Annual treatment costs of diseases contracted from needlestick injuries in the United States have totaled as much as $1.8 billion.4
Obviously, needle-free injectors allow all of these fiscal, physical and psychological damages to be avoided altogether.
Overall, by reducing the use of sharps in the workplace and by increasing the ease with which medical professionals give vaccinations, needle-free technology is a boon to both the industry and to the individuals who give injections daily.
- United States. Occupational Safety & Health Administration. Disposal of Contaminated Needles and Blood Tube Holders Used for Phlebotomy. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Web.
- “Benefits of SafeSnap.” US Medical Instruments, Inc. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Web
- United States. Occupational Safety & Health Administration. Safer Needle Devices: Protecting Health Care Workers. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Web.
- United States. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Sharps Safety Workbook. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Web.
- Pugliese, G., and Salahuddin, M., Sharps Injury Prevention Program: A Step-By-Step Guide (Chicago: American Hospital Association, 1999).