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HIV/AIDS Precautions - Needles and Sharps

What precautions should be used when working with needles and sharps?

Consider all sharps as potentially infective. The user of the sharp should plan for it's safe use and disposal.

  • Use puncture-resistant containers.
  • Label containers.
  • Clean and sterilize reusable syringes before reusing.
  • Place large bore reusable needles in puncture-proof containers.
  • Use clamps to remove lancet and scalpel blades from holders, not your fingers.
  • Do not recap, bend, break or remove needles by hand from disposable syringes or otherwise handle after use.

How should decontamination and waste disposal be handled?

  • Disinfect or sterilize medical devices or apparatus according to manufacturer's instructions.
  • Clean instruments thoroughly before disinfecting with a germicide or medical grade disinfectant.
  • Incinerate or autoclave infectious waste before disposal. Carefully pour bulk blood, suctioned fluids, excretions or secretions into a drain connected to a sanitary sewer. Check with local, regional or provincial authorities regarding by-laws.

How should blood/body fluid spills be cleaned?

  • Remove visible material from patient care areas and decontaminate.
  • Remove blood or body fluids with absorbent paper towels. Dispose according to hospital policy.
  • Clean area and use disinfectant.

How should I handle laboratory specimens?

  • Place collected blood and body fluid specimens in sterile containers. Securely close lid.
  • Clean the outside of the container with disinfectant if visibly contaminated.
  • Place container in a clear impervious plastic bag.
  • Label container "Blood and Body Fluid Precautions." Label requisition and attach to outside of bag.
  • Do not transport in a vacuum/pneumatic system.

How should patient care articles be handled?

  • Use disposable patient care articles whenever possible.
  • Incinerate or dispose of disposable articles according to hospital policy.
  • Place articles soiled with blood in impervious bag. Label "Blood and Body Fluid Precautions."
  • Reprocess reusable items according to hospital policy.

Document last updated on January 13, 2010


Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.